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Client: Gateshead Council
Discipline(s): Ultra high reach demolition, asbestos removal, residential demolition
Location: Ravensworth Estate, Gateshead
Programme: 78 weeks   


After a competitive tender process, Gateshead Council selected Coleman & Company to complete a complicated, three phase deconstruction project on Ravensworth Estate.  The project included the demolition of the 30-storey Derwent Tower - nicknamed “The Dunston Rocket” - and 78 other residential properties.  

Scope of works

The works included:
  • Deconstruction and demolition of a 30-storey tower block
  • Demolition of 78 residential properties between three and five storeys, including blocks of maisonettes, flats and two-storey houses.
  • Ultra high reach demolition and excavation
  • Asbestos removal
  • Soft strip
  • Landscaping
Project challenges

The project presented a number of challenges:
  • The main body of work was the 30-storey tower block which needed to be deconstructed down to the 19th floor, using a tower crane, cantilevered scaffold and mini demolition excavators, before the ultra high reach excavator could begin the systematic demolition of the remaining 52 metre high structure
  • Identification of asbestos contamination required a full environmental clean and soft strip of the tower block before scaffolding could be erected and demolition could be carried out
  • The 1960’s reinforced concrete frame tower sat over a three-storey caisson basement, which formed the foundation for the superstructure
  • The building was built on the flood plain of the river Tyne and the very high water table meant that the caisson basement lifted as the demolition work reduced the weight of the superstructure. To combat this, the basement was backfilled with 5,000 tonnes of inert material before demolishing the bottom 11 storeys

The location of the project was within a residential estate and the ultra high reach demolition was restricted by live buildings on two sides of the tower. Dunston Social Club was within 20 metres of one side and a redundant five-storey mixed-use building, with a live electrical sub-station, within five metres of the basement.  A detailed sequence of demolition caused minimal disruption to neighbouring properties and residents.   You can view BBC footage of the Dunston Rocket Demolition here.