Erith shapes up to ship out wrecked houseboat

By Steve Ducker02 March 2017

United Kingdom-based Erith Contractors has shown its versatility in the early months of 2017 with demolition projects at both ends of the scale.

The company, which started work on the landmark demolition of the former Westferry Printworks in London’s Docklands last month, took on a rather different project further east in Brightlingsea, Essex,on behalf of Colchester Borough Council.

A houseboat had flooded and sank after running aground several months earlier, and although a man on board at the time was rescued, the boat was completely wrecked.

It was resurfaced and dragged on to the shore by a number of tug boats, but around 100 metres from the promenade it would move no further.

Erith was approached, and project manager Oliver Dowling takes up the story:

“The boat was initially going to be removed from the beach via a tandem lift with two 100 t crawler cranes. But due to the poor ground conditions and the boat’s structural condition, an in situ methodology for deconstruction was formulated.

“The boat could only be reached at low tide and as such all arising waste had to be cleared before the end of each shift to prevent debris polluting the estuary. As well as the tidal constraints, we had to contend with surge tides and storms.

“Before the deconstruction started, our specialist asbestos removal division attended the site to remove all asbestos containing materials. Then we employed specialists to remove the fuel still in the boat’s fuel tank.

“We used a 13 t excavator to carry out top down selective deconstruction, taking care to maintain the integrity of the lower levels of the hull.

“After taking away the arisings we repaired the hard standing on the beach as a gesture of goodwill to the local boating community. The project attracted significant local interest due to the length of time the boat had been wrecked.”

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