THEY had been part of the skyline for more than four decades – but in just a matter of seconds they were gone.
The 16-storey North Sighthill towerblocks were demolished yesterday in front of a huge crowd of onlookers who gathered on Sighthill public park.
The plunger was pushed by nine-year-old Lewis Reynolds, who won a council competition for the honour, along with long-time residents Maureen and William Murdoch, and Councillor Norman Work.
The last resident to leave the blocks, who had refused to abandon his home in protest, finally agreed to leave voluntarily before the exclusion zone was put in place at 10am.
After a countdown and an initial boom to scare away the pigeons on the playing field, there was a tremendous crack and half of Glenalmond Court collapsed, followed quickly by the rest of the block, and a split second later, Weir and Hermiston Courts sank to the ground.
A thick cloud of dust raced towards the spectators but quickly settled, revealing three surprisingly compact piles of rubble and a clear view to the Pentlands.
After playing his role with the plunger, Lewis said: “It was really exciting that I got to push the plunger, because you just feel it and then you’re like... did it go off? And all you hear is a big bang. It was quite scary, because half of it crumbled and then fell to the ground first – there was three really big multi-storeys, I pressed the plunger and afterwards nothing was there but a big cloud.”
Mrs Murdoch, 73, who raised her three children in Glenalmond Court and lived there for 43 years, said: “I definitely shed a tear. It’s a totally new vista all together. We had a lot of happy times up in those flats and the kids loved it.”
The demolition is part of a redevelopment of the area which will see 320 new homes for sale and rent, half of which will be affordable housing and the remainder for private sale.