Lafarge Cement has formally marked the end of production at its Northfleet Works in a symbolic ceremony led by the demolition of its 550 foot chimneys. Hundreds of local people congregated on Sunday, 28 March, to observe the moment at which 200 years of cement manufacture at the Kent site drew to a close.
Lafarge has already submitted a planning application to redevelop the Northfleet site for mixed-use, including residential, retail and open public spaces. Through what is believed to have been Europe’s largest demolition project, Lafarge Cement organised a charity text competition to find an individual to ‘press the button’ to demolish the two site chimneys. Local resident Annabelle Church, aged 5, was the lucky winner. The three-week competition raised over UK£3500 with the funds going to the Kent Air Ambulance Trust and local EllenorLions Hospices.
Lynn Hyder, County Fundraiser for Kent Air Ambulance said: “This is probably one of the most unusual ways that we have ever raised funds for the charity and we are grateful to Lafarge for giving us the opportunity.”
Nigel Rees, Demolition Manager at Lafarge Cement’s Northfleet site, said: "It was an emotional moment to see two centuries of cement manufacture reach an end, but we were delighted to be able to offer Annabelle a once-in-a lifetime opportunity to start the demolition of both chimneys. They have been a longstanding landmark for Northfleet and it is appropriate that their legacy has made a lasting impression for local charities.”