Bucks Mills Lime Kiln Works confirm precarious state of old structure
The safety works at Bucks Mills Lime Kiln have been completed by Torridge District Council as part of plans to stabilise the listed structure and manage the immediate health and safety risk identified by engineers. The footpath from the village to the beach has also been reopened.
The works undertaken by Gilpins Demolition Ltd were arranged following a recent routine inspection of the Kiln, which revealed significant movement in sections of the stonework. A subsequent Geotechnical Engineer inspection recommended the removal of a section of the upper Kiln, identified as the main area of concern. Engineers were mindful that hot weather followed by very wet conditions were the precursor to previous slippages and damage at the Kiln in 1990. The precarious state of the Kiln was evidenced during the works where only a small amount of contact was needed to topple large sections of the structure. Due to safety concerns the works included the use of a remote demolition robot and long reach excavator.
The works included reducing the overall height of the structure by approximately 2 metres with the internal fill material graded back to form a more stable slope designed to mitigate future risk to beach users. A selection of walling stone has been retained on site for reuse, which will reduce maintenance costs in the future, and meant expensive disposal was not required in the meantime. Future plans for the site include the implementation of aesthetically designed safety fencing and walling and continued maintenance to the seawall and slipway.
Given the Kiln's listing and historic significance Devon County Councils Historic Environment Team and Historic England were involved in the planning and an Archaeological Survey was undertaken by South West Archaeology to ensure the features of the structure were recorded prior to and during the removal of material.
Councillor Bob Hicks - Lead Member for the Economy and Property said:
"Given the precarious state of the structure confirmed during the works it would appear that our engineers have acted in a very timely manner to avert a significant collapse, which could have had severe consequences. The works were designed to preserve as much of the structure as possible while achieving the objective of making it safe from further movement or risk. We appreciate people's patience, especially local residents while the appointed contractors undertook this task and hope that the preserved structure will now continue to function as a local landmark and intrigue visitors for many years to come.