Another abbey customer for D-Drill!
Experts from the company, which has ten offices around the UK including a branch in Plymouth, were part of the team that completed the first phase of £6.5 million restoration project at Torre Abbey in Torquay.
The 12th Century building – the oldest in Torquay – has been deteriorating since the 1840s but a project, which has benefitted from a £4.9 million Heritage Lottery Fund grant, began in 2005 to return it to its former glory and make it a much more accessible visitor attraction.
D-Drill was contracted by Kier Western to remove a reinforced concrete floor over three levels and also to remove two concrete supports holding tombstones dating back to the 1100s.
In ordinary circumstances, the firm would have used a robotic demolition machine to break through the concrete but that would have potentially damaged the building because of vibration.
So the team got their heads together and devised a plan to cut out sections of the floor piece by piece in order to make sure no damage was caused to the abbey.
The three-day task saw over 70 square metres of 200mm deep concrete slabs removed.
Cutting the concrete also leads to high temperatures and water is used as a coolant but no liquid could be allowed outside of the work area for fear it may contaminate the tomb areas.
Ed Taylor, D-Drill branch manager, said: “Allowing water to run off was simply not an option as there were monks buried in the floor beneath us!
“We were also surrounded by historic ruins, artefacts and also newly renovated rooms, so it was absolutely vital that water couldn’t escape.”
D-Drill used technology devised by Austrian company GOLZ to filter the water and the waste and turn it into a jelly-like substance that could be disposed of off-site.
The first phase of the project is now complete, with a vastly improved visitor access allowing members of the public to see previously inaccessible areas.
Ed added: “We are delighted to have played a role in the restoration of Torre Abbey and the work shows, yet again, how flexible and versatile we are.
“When it comes to breaking up the amount of concrete required here, we would normally use a Brokk robotic demolition machine but we had to adapt to the building and went for an alternative method.
“All of our cutting and drilling work is now complete and we have built a great relationship with the clients.”