Red Road flats: 2,500 return home after failed demolition

The Red Road flats begin to crumble. Picture: John Devlin
The Red Road flats begin to crumble. Picture: John Devlin
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THE DEMOLITION of a group of high-rise flats did not entirely go to plan yesterday after the explosion left two of the six blocks still partially upright and left many residents unable to return to nearby homes.

Four of the six Red Road flats in Glasgow were brought down in a single blast, with two remaining partially upright due to an apparently unforeseen difficulty. The top half of the two buildings remained standing at a slight angle after the bottom halves were destroyed.

It is understood up to 2,500 people were kept from their homes surrounding the site due to the failed demolitions, however they returned home about an hour later than scheduled.

The partly failed demolition – dubbed the “Leaning Towers of Barmulloch” on social media – soured what had been a near carnival atmosphere as thousands of residents and visitors surrounded the exclusion zone and waited hours for what was over in a few seconds.

A Glasgow Housing Association spokesman said: “The original plan for today’s demolition was that ten floors of the blocks would remain for dismantling, post blowdown, by machine. However, this did not go completely to plan. Over the next few days, the contractors, Safedem, will carry out a review to determine the best way of now completing the demolition.

“Residents began moving back into their homes shortly after 6pm, just over an hour later than originally planned. We sincerely apologise to everyone involved for this delay and any additional inconvenience caused.”

Going... going.... going... Picture: John Devlin

Going... going.... going... Picture: John Devlin

Molly Tumwebaze, 51, originally from Uganda, lived in one of the towers when she arrived in the UK and was evacuated from a neighbouring street with her family before the explosion.

Speaking before the exclusion zone reopened, she said: “I am so annoyed with this demolition process. All gates are still closed and nobody is there to tell us what to do next. This is a nightmare for sure.

“This is the third time we have been evacuated for demolitions after the first and second buildings were brought down.”

But she added: “I really wanted them to stay – I had good memories there. It’s going to be so different without them.”

Gone: After nearly 50 years, the Red Road flats are reduced to rubble and dust. Picture: John Devlin

Gone: After nearly 50 years, the Red Road flats are reduced to rubble and dust. Picture: John Devlin

Victoria Lennon, 33, and Sharon McRobert, 35, said it was good to have the eyesore flats removed.

Ms McRobert, a mother of two, who once visited an uncle in the flats, said: “I was terrified of heights. Hopefully if they build nicer flats there now, it will be a nicer area.”

The demolition is part of Glasgow Housing Association’s plan to regenerate communities across the city, which will see thousands of new homes built.

When they were built between 1964 and 1969, the Red Road flats were the highest in Europe, at 292ft.

They were built to house nearly 5,000 people cleared from Glasgow’s slums but later became notorious for drugs and crime.

They were at the centre of controversy last year when Glasgow 2014 chiefs faced criticism as they planned to demolish them as part of the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony. They eventually ditched the proposal to blow down five of the six remaining blocks live on TV amid fears of a public protest.

Critics said it was insensitive to former residents and to the asylum seekers who still occupied the sixth block.

One of the blocks was demolished in 2013 and another in 2012.