The demolition of the former Earl’s Court exhibition centres site in London has moved on a stage with a  4,300 t ALE AL SK 90 crane being used to take away more than 60 concrete portal beams weighing up to 1,500 t each.

Contractor Keltbray won World Demolition Awards in two categories in recent years for its part in taking down the exhibition halls.

Now the area is being cleared ahead of a programme to build almost 8,000 new homes along with parkland and other community facilities.

The development, which is a partnership between the public and private sectors, is the largest of its kind and will be completed by the end of the year.

Keltbray technical manager Dave Rowe said: “Having looked at various methodologies, we looked at options more globally and came across the AL SK 90.

“By using this crane and lifting method, disruption is minimised and the crane’s high capacity and precision lifting technology will reduce the overall timescale considerably.”

Designed for lifting ultra-heavy loads, the crane reaches 120 m (393 ft) when fully extended, or more than double the height of the famous London landmark Nelson’s Column.

The massive portal beams – even the smallest of them weighs in at 80 t – once supported the exhibition centres above part of the London Underground network, which is still operational.

As a result, lifting can only take place overnight after the final train has left.

Anyone interested in seeing the crane up close, and learning more about the development in general, can visit the Earl’s Court Project Rooms when developer Capital and Counties Projects opens them to the public on the second Saturday of each month.

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