VIDEO: Metal jaws make light work of pulling down Bury St Edmunds landmark

The mammoth task of dismantling Bury St Edmunds’ landmark gas holder is ahead of schedule according to officials.

National Grid is pulling down the 60-year-old structure as part of its national programme to tidy up old, disused gas works and breathe new life into brownfield sites.

Demolition of gasholder in Bury St Edmunds ANL-161101-172222009

Demolition of gasholder in Bury St Edmunds ANL-161101-172222009

Using a 52-tonne excavator with metal jaws – nicknamed “the dinosaur” – the gas holder is being painstakingly removed piece by piece.

Sam Rendell, National Grid’s land regeneration manager, said: “We are looking to have it done by April and should have the holder down next month, so we are ahead of schedule.

“It is a difficult job, there is a lot of metal to cut and you can’t be sure just how thick it is when you start.

“You can’t know what the inside of the tank looks like beforehand. It is a case of starting at the top, cutting it up and pulling it inside.

Sam Rendell from National Grid with site manager Darryl Coleman

Sam Rendell from National Grid with site manager Darryl Coleman

“One of the other main problems we have faced on the job is the access to the site.

“We have had to widen the entrance and bring in some of the plant at 3am, so as not to block the road.”

The gas holder, built in 1956, was made up of giant metal cylinders that fit snugly inside each other.

When more gas was added to the holder,the inner rings would rise, meaning the structure could increase in height from eight to 22 metres tall.

Demolition of gasholder in Bury St Edmunds ANL-161101-172152009

Demolition of gasholder in Bury St Edmunds ANL-161101-172152009

At full capacity it could hold 13 tonnes of gas.

The holder was decommissioned in 2009 after technological advances in storing gas made it obsolete.

Ms Rendell said once dismantling the structure was complete, the site would be assessed.

“We don’t have any firm plans for the site at the moment but once this is demolished we will start to speak with developers.

“We will have a bit more work to do for site clearance but this stage should be complete by the end of February.

“I think these gas holders are often held in some affection.

“Before Christmas we had a little heritage event here where we got people who had worked here in the past to share their memories.

“We are looking to turn it into a booklet and film in the future.”