Bury St Edmunds: Workmen start to dismantle chimney at fire ravaged Cupola House
WORKMEN began the task of dismantling an unstable chimney at the fire hit Cupola House, in Bury St Edmunds, this morning.
An 80-tonne crane was bought onto the site next to the wrecked Strada Restuarant which was suspending two men above the building in an open steel cage so they could carry out the task of taking down the stack brick by brick.
Site manager Darren Moffat, of Seamans Building, in Thurston, said the job was likely to last into the weekend and that the men would be taking off the bricks and letting them fall through the middle of the stack.
A survey was carried out last night prior to today’s operation which was being watched by people in the street passing the scene of Saturday’s dramatic fire.
At the same time, contractors are assessing the effect on neighbouring properties of the remaining risk of collapse after the work is carried out.
The plan is to remove 4.5 metres of the stack so further work can be carried out at the building in The Traverse in a bid to save as much of the structure as possible.
Meanwhile, shops and businesses which have been forced to close were trying to get back to normal with the Halifax Building Society due to open this morning and Harriets to fully open tomorrow.
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A spokeswoman for St Edmundsbury District Council said today that information continues to be posted on white boards outside Croasdales Chemists and on the council website at www.stedmundsbury.gov.uk
The crane arrived at 17.45 yesterday and the engineers surveyed and recorded the chimney.
The work is weather dependent, as the cage and crane cannot be used in wet and windy conditions.
It continues to affect the four businesses on the Buttermarket and scaffolding is arriving today to shore up the fa�ade of Cupola House which will take a week to erect.
The scaffolding will support the front, pass through the windows and be secured behind, forming a sandwich.
Regular meetings are being held between the council, Bid4Bury and the affected businesses and the business still closed are Lloyds Bank, Nationwide Building Society, Specsavers, Phones 4 You,
Sahara, Jessops, Bella Lingerie.
A spokeswoman for English Heritage said: “The building is in a very fragile and potentially unstable state and it is still too early to say exactly what can be saved, but we are encouraged by the swift erection of the scaffolding which seems to suggest that there is hope that the surviving fabric can be rescued.”
The fire began just before 9pm on Saturday in the basement.
The spokeswoman for the borough council, which has taken over as lead agency for the recovery phase, said putting out the fire was a priority as well as salvaging any material that can either be re-used or used as templates and getting all the remaining closed businesses open.
Meanwhile, Julia Dyball, the clerk at Bury St Edmunds Town Council, issued a statement which she said was the council’s view but also reflected the sentiments of various people who have commented to them.
It said: “Bury St Edmunds Town Council is greatly appreciative of the work of the emergency services in dealing with the fire that has largely destroyed Cupola House, the beautiful Grade 1 Listed Building in the Traverse, and also of the work of the Borough Council in leading the recovery team and other agencies to restore as much normality to the area as possible for affected businesses, residents and visitors whilst making essential preparations for the eventual painstaking rebuilding and restoration.
“The fire damage caused to this iconic historic building is a great sadness to the people of Bury St Edmunds and of Suffolk who would no doubt wish to also express thanks.