Demolition of former British Ceramic Tile Factory, Newton Abbot, Devon
£0.7 Million
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British Ceramic Tiles (BCT) had been in operation at the Newton Abbot site since the 1800’s and, following a major expansion in 2009, became the largest and most efficient tile-making plant in Europe capable of producing 30,000 square metres of tiles per day. BCT was one of the largest employers in the south west with generations of families employed at the site.

The company entered into administration and ceased trading at the beginning of 2019. The large scale bespoke industrial unit in Newton Abbot was subsequently purchased by a consortium of new owners who turned to Walters to undertake the demolition of a number of complex structures in order to help them breath new life into the 18 acre site. Located close to residential areas and immediately adjacent to the busy A38 dual carriageway, the main feature of the site was the iconic 30m high ‘Spray Drier Tower’, a renowned landmark in the south west area, requiring detailed planning and expert execution to bring it safely to the ground.


Working closely with the client team, Walters developed a phased demolition plan which required work in three separate locations across the vast site, namely:

  • Mezzanine floor – a 2-storey steel framed reinforced concrete deck structure previously used for storage. Walters experienced team worked inside and outside the building to carefully deconstruct the mezz floor to a pre-determined sequence utilising a 50t Volvo demolition rig, a 30t Caterpillar rig and a range of specialist hydraulic attachments. Timber mats were used to protect the internal slab from damage during the work.
  • Goods-In Area and Ball Mill Tower – This area included two 21m high steel framed towers – one above a live internal sub-station, the other over a huge steel ‘ball mill’ structure weighing 95 tonnes and supported on large concrete plinths. The ball mill had been used to pulverise Devon ball clays into powder for use in the tile making process. A designed boarded scaffold crash deck system was erected around the live sub-station to provide protection during the works. Walters highly skilled team carefully deconstructed the ball mill by a combination of hand (oxy/propane burning) and mechanical means using the 50t and 30t demolition rigs and specialist hydraulic attachments. A 28m high reach machine was brought in to assist with the controlled deconstruction of the high sections of the towers which were close to the boundary and neighbouring residential areas.
  • Spray Drier Tower – The iconic 30m high steel framed structure located immediately adjacent to the A38 – the ‘Devon Expressway’ – housing the main spray drier unit and 15 large stainless steel dust storage silos. Prior to commencement the Walters team cleaned down inside the structure, removing dust deposits from platforms and ledges to ensure that dust was not an issue during the demolition. Due to the proximity to the main road, a sequence was developed which saw the tower carefully dismantled member by member over a 2 week period using a combination of hand and mechanical means. Skilled operatives worked at high level from mobile elevated work platforms to pre-weaken members to a pre-determined sequence using oxygen/propane burning equipment. Steelwork was then brought to ground level in a controlled manner using a super high reach (42m) demolition rig. A fleet of water atomiser spray units ensured that dust was controlled at all times throughout the process.

Walters worked closely with Teignbridge District Council and kept local residents informed of progress and milestones throughout the project via a newsletter. Over 1,000t of scrap metal materials were removed from site for recycling.

The works at BCT were completed on time – with no accidents or incidents – allowing the client team to push on with the redevelopment of the site.

Contract administrator, Peter Madge, Technical Partner of Tuffin Ferraby Taylor LLP (TFT) said: “Thank you again for your work on this demolition project which was carried out in a very safe and professional manner.”

A short film of our work at the site can be viewed by clicking here