End of the line for JCB's 'Haunted House' at Rocester

By Lindsay Gale11 May 2011

The Rookery was built around 1887 as a winter retreat for local businessman Charles Hartley, who owned a local brick and tile works, and his wife Mary. It was constructed mainly of Swedish pine which, at the time, was forecast to have a lifespan of just 25 years.

Now, 124 years later, two JCB machines have demolished the building. First of all a JCB 540-170 Loadall telescopic handler complete with manbasket was drafted in to enable the initial brick-by-brick demolition of the chimeny stacks at the building before a a 22-tonne JCB JS220 tracked excavator with selector grab attachment completed the demolition of the building, which had become a potential danger to the public.

In later years The Rookery, which was bought by JCB in 1969 and was close to the company's World Headquarters, earned the nickname 'The Haunted House' from local people because of the eerie outline it cast against the sky. In the days leading up to the demolition last week, JCB set up spotlights to shine into the building to deter birds from roosting.

A JCB spokesman said: "Time really has taken its toll on The Rookery and despite regular security patrols and a fence around the property, there has also been an increasing problem with youngsters entering this dangerous structure."

"The Rookery was in such an unsafe condition that the only option was to demolish it before anyone was seriously injured. The 540-170 Loadall and the JCB JS220 excavator are more used to operating in much more arduous conditions and made light work of this particular project, with The Rookery demolition completed in two days."

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