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The demolition of the Athlone Towers

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The demolition of the Athlone Towers

by Margaux Bergman
22 Aug 2010
The Athlone Website
The Athlone Website

Athlone came alive again even if only for a couple of minutes when people gathered in their thousands along the Klipfontein Road Bridge to claim a vantage point from which to witness the demolition of the Athlone Towers.


To describe the scene on the bridge: As ominous rainclouds gathered in the skies, people of all walks of life came to bid farewell to one of Cape Town's famous landmarks. As the rain came and crowds were still preparing to capture this historical, the Athlone Towers began to fall. The five-minute-early explosion was later partially attributed to cameras that the demolition company installed around the site: According to spokesperson Pieter Cronje, the cameras did not function as effectively in rain, and the sudden rainfall was enough to convince the demolition company to detonate the charges.

From 11:55am the skyline of Athlone was significantly changed. Within a matter of seconds nothing but dust was all that remained from the Athlone Towers. Athlone, and rest of the city from their own respective locations watched with shock and disbelief, some visibly holding back a flood of emotions, as the as the Two Ladies of Athlone were demolished.

The five minutes made a world of difference not only to the many who were still rushing to their respective vantage points, but also to those who indeed arrived early and were still preparing to capture the moment. Some spoke of shock, some with the regret of missing the greatly anticipated event.

Some historical information:
The power station was commissioned in 1962 with 6 turbines with a nominal capacity of 180 megawatts, and operated by the City of Cape Town. Athlone is the last coal-fired power station still standing in Cape Town; the others, in the city centre and Salt River, were demolished in the 1980s and 1990s. The station's two cooling towers formed a landmark on the N2 freeway into the city, and were fed by reclaimed water from a nearby sewage plant. The lifespan of the towers was extended in 1993 through the addition of reinforcing bands, but on 14 February 2010, the bands on one tower collapsed, leading the city to announce that the towers would be demolished by the end of April 2010 to prevent their collapse. The demolition was postponed to 22 August 2010. The facebrick power station building and two 99m high chimneys was not be included in this demolition.
source: (Wikipedia- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athlone_Power_Station)

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