The morning of February 8th 2012 saw the final curtain call for one of Widnes’s oldest and most iconic music venues. Along with steel girders and masonry a million memories came tumbling down as Manchester-based contractor MJ Finnigan Ltd brought down the last remains of the Queens Hall theatre that had previously played host to some of the worlds most famous musicians, most notably The Beatles, The Stone Roses and The Happy Mondays.
Based in the heart of Widnes this once thriving and popular entertainment venue, has been demolished following several safety concerns over the condition of the derelict fire damaged building. The client, Halton Council made the decision to proceed with the demolition works which also mark a significant investment in the regeneration of the area.
The demolition of the Queens Hall building included for grubbing up the ground floor slab and foundations and the capping of and removal of all disused drainage and utility services. Type 1 MOT was used to backfill the basement areas and the site left top soiled and fenced upon completion. The works also included for salvage of architectural stone, items of historical importance, soft strip of all fixtures and fittings and removal of significant quantities of asbestos waste.
The building comprises of a basement, ground floor and first floor; theatre of traditional brick and block construction with a steel framed roof, clad with asbestos cement sheets.
The building has been vacant since 2004 and was generally in a poor state of repair, for health and safety reasons internal access to the building was not permitted at tender stage.
Prior to commencement on site MJ Finnigan and their demolition engineers had to assess the structural integrity of the building following the fire damage and restrict certain areas from access prior to allowing the works to proceed.
Externally, the building was adjacent to and connected to the Studio building; a live dramatic production venue.
The Studio remained live and in use throughout the demolition the Studio building was protected from damage and the weather at all times, with the building fabric made good and left in a weather tight condition following the demolition.
Due to the restrictive boundaries on three elevations including Victoria Road, a busy transport route in Widnes, The Live Studio and adjacent residential and commercial buildings MJ Finnigan had to use a controlled piecemeal demolition approach inclusive of protective / crash deck scaffolding, hand demolition and separation works.
Due to the restrictive boundaries and the unstable nature of the building the Asbestos Cement Roof was demolished mechanically. The proposed method was discussed and agreed in close dialogue with The Health and Safety Executive.
The building was demolished using a variety of high spec demolition machines and attachments including concrete pulverisers, munchers, shears and grabs. The building was successfully demolished on time and without any accident or incident much to the satisfaction of our client, Halton Council.
During the course of the works approximately 4, 000 tonnes of hard-core and concrete was recycled..