The Anonymous Widower

Thoughts On The Tragedy At Grenfell Tower

As a family, C, myself and our three boys used to live in a tower block. Admittedly, Cromwell Tower was an upmarket tower in the Barbican. I wrote about the tower in Cromwell Tower.

Cromwell Tower was designed around a concrete core in a brutalist style in the 1960s, just like Grenfell Tower.

Cromwell Tower had a network of passages that allowed escape to the floors underneath. I suspect that Grenfell Tower had similar passages.

But there were differences.

  • Cromwell Tower had a higher standard of interior finish.
  • Every flat in Cromwell Tower has a wide airy balcony.
  • Cromwell Tower has no gas.
  • Cromwell Tower was designed for high net worth tenants, whereas Grenfell Tower was a Council block.

As both blocks were designed around the same time, I suspect that they were designed to the same set of regulations.

So why did Grenfell Tower catch fire?

These are possible reasons.

Gas

I don’t like gas, as one thing I remember from working at ICI in the 1960s, is that how powerful a gas explosion can be.

Naked gas flames also are a major cause of asthma, as they create oxides of nitrogen.

But if wee had had gas in Cromwell Tower and there had been a leak, the escape passages would have been an ideal way for the gas to spread through the tower.

For these and other reasons, I believe strongly, that all multiple occupancy housing should not be connected to a gas supply.

I’ve also heard that view from a Chief Fire Officer in Suffolk.

The Design And Execution Of The Upgrade

Was it done to high enough standards.

The Cladding

\Suspicion is falling on the cladding of the building.

Smoking

How friendly was the building to smokers?

Have we really learned the lessons of the past?

The Summerland Disaster

In 1971, over fifty people were killed in a fire on the Isle of Man in the Summerland Disaster. This is Wikipedia’s summary.

The Summerland disaster occurred when a fire spread through the Summerland leisure centre in Douglas on the Isle of Man on the night of 2 August 1973. Between fifty and fifty-three people were killed and eighty seriously injured

I know it wasn’t a tower block, but I think that there are common issues.

Under Background this is said.

Summerland was opened on 25 May 1971. It was a climate-controlled building covering 3.5 acres (1.4 ha) on Douglas’s waterfront, consisting of 50,000 sq ft (4,600 m2) of floor area at a cost of £2 million. The building’s hull and the interior were designed by two different architects—they did not match their planning to each other and thereby created a venue with significant fire risks that were only to become apparent later.

So did the architects of the upgrade do a proper job? Did they have any co-operation with the original architects.

The same Background section also says this.

Summerland was designed to accommodate up to 10,000 tourists and comprised a dance area, five floors of holiday games, restaurants and public bars. It was a 1960s concrete design incorporating advanced controlled internal climate, built with novel construction techniques using new plastic materials. The street frontage and part of the roof was clad in Oroglas, a transparent acrylic glass sheeting.

Note the use of Oroglas cladding, which is still made today.

At the time of the Summerland disaster, I was working at ICI Plastics, who made a similar acrylic sheet called Perspex. As I look around my kitchen, I see various applications of this or similar plastics.

In several places in one ICI chemical works, Perspex windows were used, as there was the occasional small explosion and you didn’t want to shower people in glass fragments.  But they were clearly marked Perspex Window – Fire Hazard.

So the problems of acrylic were clearly known at the time and yet, acrylic sheet was used to clad the building. One ICI Perspex expert told me, that Perspex shouldn’t be used to clad buildings.

So was the cladding itself a fire risk at Grenfell Tower because an inappropriate material was used, just as at Summerland?

Under Fire, this is said.

The fire started around 7:30 p.m. on 2 August 1973, and was caused by three boys who were smoking in a small, disused kiosk adjacent to the centre’s miniature golf course.

So was smoking, one of the causes of the fire, just as it was in the Summerland disaster?

We don’t seem to have learned much from the Summerland disaster.

Conclusion

I’m led back to gas being the cause of the original fire, as there is nothing energetic enough to cause such a fierce fire.

It is also stated in various media articles, that there were problems with the gas.

 

 

 

 

June 15, 2017 Posted by | World | , , , | 3 Comments

Crossrail’s High-Tech Leak System At Moorgate Station

Moorgate station is being rebuilt for Crossrail, with a lot of development above the station.

These pictures, show their new high-tech system for protection passengers from the dangers of water leaks.

Some things just can’t be improved upon!

June 5, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Heathrow Plan To Build Third Runway – On Stilts Over M25

This is the title of an article in the Business section of the Sunday Times.

Apparently, three viaducts would be built over the M25, with a wide one for the runway and two narrower ones for the taxi-ways.

Sounds fine by me!

I also feel that the technique of using stilts could be applied to build new housing and commercial properties over roads and railways.

Look at all that space over some city centre stations!

June 4, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

I Can Clearly See Through The Hackney Wick Subway

A couple of days and they’re really pushed on at Hackney Wick station.

It looks like after the May Bank Holiday, they may have opened up the subway for pedestrians, as barriers seem to be ready to create a walkway.

April 24, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

The Subway Is Finally Exposed

These pictures show the subway and a few other things at Hackney Wick station.

It looks to my untrained eye, that now, the builders can get on with putting in the stairs and lifts and then fit out the station ready for opening.

This visualisation shows how the station will look on completion.

Hackney Wick Station South Elevstion

I do hope they leave the approach to the station clear, as in the visualisation.

April 20, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

The Mammoths Are Leaving

I went back to Hackney Wick station in the afternoon and the mammoths were lined up, with the 2,000 tonne subway standing on its own feet.

The mammoths really are impressive beasts.

April 18, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

The New Hackney Wick Station Opened On Time

This morning and I was up early to catch the first train train from Dalston Kingsland station to the new Hackney Wick station.

The train was precisely on time at 06:23.

Note that the herd of mammoths, that I photographed on Thursday are still underneath the new embankment.

 

This is a previous picture from Thursday.

From the pictures it would appear that they have picked up the station subway and given it a twirl.

It has certainly been an impressive project to demolish a railway on an embankment, insert a new subway and then rebuild and reopen the embankment, all in four working days.

I feel that they got the project nmanagement spot-on for this project, witn not a minute of wasted time.

But the biggest factor was surely, that the only work they did with the electrification was switch it off at the start and switch it on and test it, at the finish. They also probably used the most careful digger and crane operators they could find!

I wonder, if we’ll be seeing similar robust construction techniques to create and rebuild stations in double-quick time!

April 18, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Forget Drones, Flying Diggers Are More Fun!

I took these pictures at Hackney Wick this morning.station

As to progress, it appears that the subway has been slotted into the gap in the embankment created yesterday

 

This picture gives a distant view of the site on the North side of the tracks.

The subway appears not to be there anymore and it could actually be in position.

This must be good progress.

April 15, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Counting Them All In And Counting Them All Out

I didn’t expect to be able to see much at Hackney Wick station today, but contractors were hard at work creating space to be able to move the subway into position.

Trucks turned-up full with ballast, dumped it for distribution by the digger and then backed in and were filled with the remains of the embankment, before driving off.

Note that the overhead electrifrication is still in place, although it is switched off.

It appears that there is a cable that was buried in the platform and they have decided to keep on digging. You can see it clearly above the trucks being filled.

One guy told me, that they were being exceedingly careful.

But if East London goes dark, we’ll know who to blame.

April 14, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , | 1 Comment

West Anglia Route Improvement – Angel Road Stations – 20th March 2017

I took these pictures.as I walked from the current Angel Road station to the works, which could be the construction of the new Meridian Water station.

There is obviously a lot of serious work going on in the area, as some of the trains seem to be slowing appreciably.

But most of the work so far, seems to have been setting up the site, moving the signalling cables and generally clearing up the rubbish.

March 20, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment