Crushing end for Sunderland’s Hahnemann Court flats

Demolition work at Sunderland's Hahnemann Court

Demolition work at Sunderland's Hahnemann Court

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DEMOLITION work has started on a landmark tower block – closing the chapter on nearly 50 years of history.

Bulldozers moved in on Hahnemann Court, Southwick, a low-rise built in the 1960s as a beacon for modern living.

MD of Gentoo Sunderland, Ian Porter, MD of MGL Demolition, Mark Davison and Contracts Director, Derek Watt at the start of the demolition of Hahnemann Court.

MD of Gentoo Sunderland, Ian Porter, MD of MGL Demolition, Mark Davison and Contracts Director, Derek Watt at the start of the demolition of Hahnemann Court.

The building, owned by housing group Gentoo, is being knocked down due to its poor structural condition, but will forever hold decades of memories for many former residents.

Retired sail maker James Richardson and his wife Norma, a retired machinist, both 79, moved into one of Hahnemann Court’s 208 flats when they were newly built.

They lived there for 46 years until they moved to Gentoo’s city development, Benedict Court, last year.

Although happily settled in their new home, James still feels sentimental about their time spent at Hahnemann Court.

“When we moved in 46 years ago it was marvellous. We were high up so we had a view across the sea and it was very modern.

“When you go past now and see the open spaces where the windows were, it makes you think back and feel nostalgic.”

He added: “We go past it every day when we go out but we never stop to look.

“I don’t think I could watch them pull it apart, it would feel strange.

“I don’t think anyone who had lived there would like to see that.”

George West moved into the court in 1966 with his aunt and uncle, where he continued to live for 44 years until April last year.

“It’s a shame that it’s being knocked down,” said the 80-year-old.

“But it was neglected and was too far gone to put anything right so it had to be done.”

George is now living in Gentoo’s City Green development with his 28-year-old pet parrot, Joey.

Hahnemann Court is due to be demolished and the land cleared by September, although there are no current plans for the future of the site.

Gentoo managing director Ian Porter said: “Lots of the building has had to have the asbestos scraped off by hand, which has been time consuming, but it means that rather than go to a landfill, the scrap can be re-cycled.”

Environmental concerns have been a high priority, and contractors will use a Liebherr Crawler Excavator to chip away at the structure rather than blow it up.

All the concrete will be crushed and stock-piled to be used for roads, paths and car park construction.

Andrew Griffiths of Gentoo said: “While work has taken longer than normal, it has meant that nearly all the building will be recycled rather than going to landfill.

“Whilst it is great to see the main demolition works starting, it is sad to see the end of Hahnemann Court as it holds fond memories for many of the residents who have lived there over the years.”