The man who's pulling Ipswich down

AS Ipswich's waterfront skyline continues to vanish at a rapid pace there is one man at the helm.Chris Hinett, 44, has the privileged position of being at the controls of the distinctive orange concrete crusher which is currently taking giant bites out of some of the town's tallest landmarks.

AS Ipswich's waterfront skyline continues to vanish at a rapid pace there is one man at the helm.

Chris Hinett, 44, has the privileged position of being at the controls of the distinctive orange concrete crusher which is currently taking giant bites out of some of the town's tallest landmarks.

He said: “I've been driving this particular machine for a couple of years, but other similar ones for around seven years.

“You sort of pass through the ranks until you get to huge pieces of equipment like this.”

The machine, with its 160 foot arm, is the only one of its kind in the world and Mr Hinett was the first person in the UK to gain a licence to operate it.

With huge blocks of rubble and concrete falling down towards him from great heights, he could be forgiven for feeling frightened from time to time but Mr Hinett has no qualms.

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He said: “You have to really know what you are doing before you can operate machinery like this.

“It might look a bit dramatic but we all know what we are doing so you don't really worry about it.”

Because the arm of the crusher is so long, the machine is fitted with CCTV cameras so that Mr Hinett can see exactly where the giant claw is positioned before it closes.

He said: “We've got CCTV cameras at the top of the arm near the claw and screens in the cab so that we can monitor exactly what we are doing.”

Mr Hinett, who hails from Birmingham, has travelled all over the UK with the machine, working on demolition sites the length and breadth of the country.

He said: “It can be good fun but we do work long days. On an average day I probably do about ten hours, but at times we will work through the night.”

The machine is being hired from 777 Demolition Ltd by Suffolk-based demolition contracter CDC. It has been used to help demolish the old Cranfields site as well as Paul's Albion Maltings.

You can watch its progress on the Evening Star's webcam.

Mr Hinett said: “My boss told me he was watching me on it the other day - there's no excuse for me slacking off now!”

WEBLINK: Go to www.eveningstar.co.uk and click on the webcam link.

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