It has been around fourteen weeks from start to finish but with a sigh of relief we can finally announce that the former Sports Direct building has been demolished and the site secured.
No matter how long you have lived in Darlington, you are likely to remember visiting the former Sports Direct Building which has concealed the façade of our Victorian Library from Saint Cuthbert’s Way for as long as I can remember.
Some of you will remember meeting friends at Magnet Bowl, others will have purchased furniture for your first house from MFI, and others might remember dancing the night away at Club Lucy’s; or if there was too much drinking involved, perhaps the memories are a little hazy?
For myself, the memories of watching the demolition have surpassed all of these.
From my office window, which sits above the library ground floor in what was the old caretakers flat, I have watched with increased interest as the cherry picker removed the external cladding exposing the steel framework, and the heavy excavator 360 delicately dismantled the structure in a way reminiscent to how I’d have expected a brontosaurus would have taken leaves from a tree back in the Jurassic period.
Sparks flew when the oxyacetylene burner was used to safely remove the RSJ upstands.
Working in such proximity to the demolition certainly had its challenges, the largest of these being the noise. Surprisingly it wasn’t the cacophony of banging and drilling that really got to me, but the incessant beeping caused by the heavy excavator reversing. There were times I felt I was flirting with madness; this certainly wasn’t the quietness and stillness which is traditionally synonymous with a library.
There was also little escape from the clouds of dust, but like the clouds in the sky, these were temporary, and day by day more light began to stream through my window and the view has opened up showing the green trees and blue skies that August has brought us.