Birmingham & Black Country

Birmingham Central Library: Demolition work begins

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Media captionBirmingham library demolished

Demolition work has begun on Birmingham's old Central Library.

Once described by the Prince of Wales as looking like "a place where books are incinerated, not kept", the concrete building is being cleared as part of a major redevelopment project.

Built more than 40 years ago, it has been stripped inside, although work is not expected to be finished until next autumn.

Campaigners had wanted it to be given listed status and preserved.

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They handed a 2,000-signature petition to the city council earlier this month.

Crowds gathered to watch the city's "important example of brutalist architecture" be slowly taken down.

Designed by local architect John Madin, who was also behind the BBC's Pebble Mill studios and the chamber of commerce building in the city, it was opened in 1973.

Image caption The 10-year project will see new offices, shops and walkways created, which will link Chamberlain and Centenary Squares

A "concrete cruncher" is being used initially to "nibble" at the exterior, but because of the impact of the work the building has been strengthened with about a dozen steel joists, developers said.

Timeline: Birmingham Central Library

The nearby one-way Paradise Circus loop has been closed to enable demolition equipment, including a special excavator used on buildings in tightly constrained places, to be put in place.

Image caption Loved or loathed, the library will be no more by next autumn
Image caption Campaigners had wanted the old library building to be given listed status and preserved

While work to clear the site takes place, a walkway through the old Paradise Forum has been closed, along with a large part of Chamberlain Square.

Pedestrians and cyclists are being re-routed through Fletchers Walk.

Developers described the start of the demolition work as a "significant milestone".

Image caption A so-called "concrete cruncher" is "nibbling" at the exterior of the building

Once fully demolished, it will be replaced with office space as part of the £500m Paradise regeneration scheme.

The 10-year project will see new offices, shops and walkways created, which will link Chamberlain and Centenary Squares.

A new £190m library opened in Centenary Square in 2013.

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