Didn’t Foom Right The First Time. Or the Second. Or Third….

Two apartment towers in Seaforth near Liverpool were scheduled to be demolished by explosives at 1000 BST Sunday, 24 April. Churchill House and Montgomery House were identical 15-story, 58-unit buildings and the demolitionist was a professional firm, J. Bryan (Victoria) Ltd of Widnes, England.

At the appointed hour the charges went off in sequence… and nothing else happened.

The BBC has the best video of this at this linked story (we couldn’t figure out how to embed it…Britons are certainly getting complexity for their TV taxes, if nothing else).

Engineers checked the buildings and found them, structurally, still sound.

Two hours later, down came Churchill House, unbidden. So much for engineers!

A second attempt to blow Montgomery House on Monday also failed. A third attempt produced some serious structural damage, and one corner of the building came down, the rest of it still stood. We can imagine the shade of Monty, arms akimbo, laughing at the would-be demolitionists. Montgomery, of all generals, would have ensured the operation had been properly prepared for.

It makes one wonder whether demolitions as a practice is quite as scientific as its exponents try to make it sound. We do recall our 12Bs / 18Cs always muttering things that resembled Druidic incantations more than scientific calculations, and always including a factor P (for “Plenty.”) Not to get all up in the business of J. Bryan (Victoria) Ltd. but we’d take odds that their demolitionist is not a graduate of an Armed Forces demo school in which the fundamentality of the foundational P Factor is stressed.

The buildings were erected around 1960 (as seems obvious from the names; if they put them up now, they’d be named for pop singers, legendary sheikhs or imams, or maybe the Kray brothers). That means that entropy was already bringing them down day by day, without any needed assist from J. Bryan or Islamic terrorists. It has to have the would-be destroyers a bit red in the face.

Still, our prediction is that by the time you read this, J. Bryan and company will have gone back to the books and redone the demo, this time with the P factor prominent in their calculations.

13 thoughts on “Didn’t Foom Right The First Time. Or the Second. Or Third….

  1. Kirk

    Know how you can tell there wasn’t a 12B or 18C involved?

    The surrounding city is still intact.

    1. archy

      ***Know how you can tell there wasn’t a 12B or 18C involved?

      The surrounding city is still intact.***

      Concur. Additionally, nobody dropped a nearby bridge with the leftover powder, or
      tried to send an old clunker car or truck or car into orbit with the leftovers.

      [I seem to recall something about 18C standing for 18 Crazy]

  2. Bert

    Problems arise sometimes when the builders did not actually follow the building plans and drawings the demo company have to work from- And/or whoever planned the demo did not do their due diligence verifying the real world situation before setting the charges.

    Different steel/cement/patterns of reinforcing? Some forman made “make do” decisions based on available materials to keep things on schedule, but never filed the changes to the plans? The contractors got a heck of a deal on over spec grade of materials left over from some other project, better stuff for cheaper???

    Or someone just skipped a decimal and stepped on his dick really spectacularly.

    I laughed my ass off at the guys who tried and failed to drop our old baseball stadium a couple of times, before I knew what that meant to the safety of the poor grunts who were wielding hammer drills and planting charges in a compromised structure in a rush to get the egg off the face of their less than competent company managemet…

  3. James In Australia

    A few years ago (97) in Canberra there was a demolition where they used the “P” factor.
    The flying debris killed a young girl nearly 1 klm away in a “safe” area.
    I imagine these guys are well aware of their liabilities in such cases, which would explain erring on the side of caution.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_WKr-G6Lp8

    1. LSWCHP

      You beat me to it. Two things conspired to produce a tragedy that day.

      First off, the demo job went to the lowest bidder, and those guys had no idea what they were doing. Instead of using cutting charges on the structural members, they just packed the damn building with a mountain of explosive. I was a shooter not an exploder in the army, but I’ve seen footage of the site prep, and I could’ve told them it was gonna go up like Vesuvius rather than dropping in place.

      Second, the incompetent government that hired the incompetent contract billed the explosion as a big family day out so there were huge crowds around. I’m smart enough to know that explosions generally aren’t entertainment. My idiot ex wife wanted to go see it, and I said “No fucking way, this is a big bang being run by a bunch of government incompetents, and someone’s gonna get hurt”. Sadly I was right.

      Google for “Canberra Hospital Explosion”. The footage shows shrapnel the size of basketballs splashing among people in nearby boats. It’s a miracle hundreds weren’t killed or injured.

  4. redc1c4

    second video comes up as “private” and is asking me to log in if i’ve been given permission to view it…

    1. Hognose Post author

      Crap. If there’s one thing I wish I understood better about this blog platform it’s extracting and embedding videos.

      1. redc1c4

        the issue seems to be how the poster on You Tube set up his permissions, rather than a platform issue here.

        i copied the URL and opened up a new window straight to the YT url and it still no w*rkie.

  5. archy

    ***Didn’t Foom Right The First Time. Or the Second. Or Third…. ***

    Could have hired some out-of-work Muzzies for the job: Allah Ak….aw rats!

    Fire in the hole, Allah ak…What! AGAIN???

    [triples charges: Allah- AW GAWDDAMNIT ALL TO HE!!

    KER-BLOOOEY!

  6. ToastieTheCoastie

    My company was contracted to demolish a 60s era freestanding microwave tower in Glenallen, Alaska after melting permafrost caused one of the legs to sink, which twisted the truss structure of the whole tower and made it to lean slightly. Initally, my boss was talking about sending climbers up to break each member off with wrenches and lower it to the ground because the crane needed for a heavy 200 foot tower was too expensive. As the safety man, you can imagine what I thought about workers unbolting members that were under unknown twisting stress. Fortunately we hired a demolitions company who was able to take 2 legs out with explosives and lay it down like a big tree.

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