Torridge District Council has announced that remedial work at the Bucks Mills limestone kiln will begin on Monday, October 31 and is expected to last three weeks before part of the kiln is dismantled.
Approximately half of the nearby parking lot will be divided and reserved as a construction site area with warehouses for machinery, materials and facilities for contractors.
The council also announced that it will be necessary to close the footpath (Wolnery 14) leading from the village to the limestone, as machinery and construction site material will move along this access road during the works.
The risk assessment also concluded that the structure will be too dangerous to walk on while it remains in a weakened state during demolition and during the darker mornings and nights following the winter DST changes.
The works were arranged following a recent routine inspection of the furnace during which cracks and movements were noted in sections of the stonework.
While the scope of work required was being determined, temporary signage was installed warning members of the public venturing out to sea towards the furnace of the potential instability and the possibility of further sudden movement and landslides.
The action to be taken follows an inspection by a geotechnical engineer which recommended the removal of a section of the blast furnace which was identified as a major area of concern. Engineers were mindful that hot weather followed by very humid conditions was a precursor to previous slips and damage in the furnace in 1990.
As the kiln is listed and of historical significance, the Council’s Building Control and Conservation officers were also consulted and came to the same conclusions for partial demolition. The Devon County Council Historic Environment Team and Historic England have been involved in drawing up the plans and an archaeological survey will be carried out to ensure that the features of the structure are recorded before and during the removal of any material.
Councilor Bob Hicks – Lead Member for Economy and Property said: “We are sorry to have had to carry out this work which required the pavement to be closed so that the partial demolition could be carried out safely and with minimal risk. Unfortunately, the structure will not be safe enough during the work period to allow the road to reopen before all work is completed. The scheme was designed to preserve as much of the structure as possible while achieving the goal of securing it from further movement or risk of sudden collapse. We appreciate the patience of people, especially local residents, while the appointed contractors undertake the task.”