Watch as huge explosion demolishes Bristol manufacturing site

At 3 pm today, Top Gear explosives expert Darren Palin took part in a controlled 300kg blast that cleared the 100-acre Avlon Works pharmaceutical processing site in the heart of Avonmouth.

The purpose of the explosion was to bring down the four-storey, 2,500-ton steel-frame structure of the main building which covered nearly 19,00 square metres of the site.

Darren Palin is an expert at planning and carrying out major operations like this and in 2004, he oversaw Top Gear’s series of blasts to demonstrate the invincibility of the Toyota Hilux truck.

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The vehicle was placed on top of a 214-foot building before Darren triggered a controlled explosion, turning the building to rubble. The Hilux not only survived the blast, despite being buried by debris, but it could still be driven afterwards.

For this project he worked with expert Robyn Rushforth to prepare the site for demolition and carry out the controlled explosion, in a joint regeneration venture with Maynards Europe, a specialist in industrial auctions and liquidations.

In preparation for today’s operation, a test blast was performed at a separate site and the demolition was successful, which signalled the go-ahead for the destruction of the Avlon Works building.

The moment the 100-acre Avlon Works pharmaceutical processing site in Avonmouth was demolished
(Image: John Myers/Bristol Live)

Maynards Europe has spent seven months planning the blast operation as part of a wider regeneration project to transform the site into a c.1.85 million square feet warehousing and logistics park.

According to Maynards Europe, the project is set to be a major contributor to economic development, job creation and regeneration for the region of South Gloucestershire.

Daniel Gray, UK Managing Director of Maynards Europe, said: “When you consider the economic, health and social challenges the country has faced over the past 18 months, this regeneration project provides a beacon of hope and confidence for the region, and so couldn’t be more welcome.”

The remains of the 100-acre Avlon Works pharmaceutical processing site in Avonmouth
(Image: John Myers/Bristol Live)

The Avlon Works was operational for 50 years from 1969 to 2019. In 2016 AstraZeneca sold the site to Avara Pharmaceutical in the hope of securing the operation’s future, but Avara fell into administration and the entire site was put up for sale.

Vancouver-based Epta Development Corporation acquired the site in December and commissioned Maynards Europe to manage the clearance and repurpose the assets via auction and private treaty sales.

“The Avonmouth site has long been a major national distribution hub for its products, and so is perfectly situated for effective asset disposal, with additional nearby port connections,” said Mr Gray.

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