Demolition begins on Tyneside's 'Dunston Rocket' flats

The first residents moved into the Dunston Rocket in 1973, and it is to be demolished in 2012.

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Demolition work has begun on a 29-storey block of flats on Tyneside nicknamed the Dunston Rocket.

Derwent Tower in Dunston, Gateshead, was built in 1973 and gained its title because of its shape.

It has suffered problems since it was built, and the 280ft-tall tower block of 196 flats has stood empty since 2010.

The building suffered from flooded car parks, low water pressure and lifts that regularly broke down.

Dunston Rocket. Photo by Damian O'Neil The demolished Dunston Rocket will make way for new homes and shops

The tower was designed by architect Owen Luder, who also designed the "Get Carter" Car Park in Gateshead which was demolished in July 2010.

Gateshead Council plans to replace the tower and its 116 adjoining maisonettes with new homes and shops.

Leader of Gateshead Council Mick Henry said: "We're building a future here in Gateshead, and sometimes to build things you have to pull things down.

"The Rocket has been here a long time, but people have told us they want to live in better accommodation. It wasn't suitable, we've moved on from those days."

The demolition should take about 18 months.

Paul Quance, project manager for demolition firm Coleman and Co, said: "There are a lot of logistical challenges, and the proximity to other buildings.

"It was put together very well, it will take some hard work to bring it down. It is a big job for us, it's the tallest building we've done so far."

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