Home   Whitstable   News   Article

Whitstable harbour fire: Cockle shed demolition begins


More news, no ads

LEARN MORE

Demolition of a fire-ravaged cockle shed at Whitstable harbour is under way this afternoon.

A blaze broke out yesterday afternoon with smoke and flames pouring from the building next to the town's fish market before the roof collapsed.

Demolition is underway

It has now been confirmed that the neighbouring South Quay Shed attraction will not reopen this weekend - as a deep clean is required.

Meanwhile a section of Harbour Street and the south quay remain closed to pedestrians and vehicles.

Kent Fire and Rescue Service are still at the site investigating the cause of the devastating inferno.

Ten fire engines and a height vehicle were at the scene yesterday afternoon, with dozens of firefighters using hoses to douse the blaze.

This morning, our reporter saw demolition crews arriving ahead of work to pull down the rest of the cockle shed.

Crews worked hard yesterday to prevent the flames from spreading to neighbouring businesses, including Whitstable Fish Market, The Crab & Winkle restaurant and the newly-opened South Quay Shed.

Fire crews tackle huge fire at Whitstable Harbour. Video: Mary Whelan

Some damage has been caused to The Crab & Winkle, including extensive damage to the adjoining walls while a window, wooden cladding and the roof have also been impacted.

Smoke was billowing into the sky and could be seen for miles, with plumes visible from Tankerton.

It is understood that as of about 7pm the fire was out but crews remain at the scene. What remains of the building is being demolished today.

Flames pouring from the building
Flames pouring from the building
A demolition team moves in to Whitstable Harbour ahead of work to tear down what remains of the cockle shed Picture: Brad Harper
A demolition team moves in to Whitstable Harbour ahead of work to tear down what remains of the cockle shed Picture: Brad Harper
The aftermath of the cockle shed fire at Whitstable Harbour Picture: Brad Harper
The aftermath of the cockle shed fire at Whitstable Harbour Picture: Brad Harper

The South Quay Shed complex, which opened on Monday, was already proving hugely popular and businesses there were expecting a bumper weekend.

But Canterbury City Council has confirmed the attraction cannot reopen until next Tuesday at the earliest.

A council spokesman told KentOnline: "Following yesterday's serious fire on the south quay at Whitstable Harbour, work has started to demolish the Cockle Shed building this morning.

"A section of Harbour Street and the south quay both remain closed to pedestrians and vehicles. This is likely to remain the case until Sunday.

"Further along the quay, the Harbour Market is accessible and the Harbour Garden Cafe can open. We are also liaising with fishermen and their fridges are all fully operational.

"The new South Quay Shed is not damaged but does require a deep clean before it can reopen. This will not happen until next Tuesday at the earliest and we are in contact with all our tenants.

"Kent Fire and Rescue remain on site to investigate the cause of this incident. Once again we express our gratitude to their crews for their quick work yesterday.

"We had recently agreed a short term use of the Cockle Shed building for the Whitstable Biennale art festival.

"We understand some work to get the building ready for this had begun and are liaising with the festival organisers.

"Due to the age of the building we asked the demolition contractor to bring in a specialist asbestos team to oversee the operation. This is a precautionary measure.

"Asbestos monitoring equipment has been set up and people working within the site cordon are wearing protective equipment, again as a precaution."

Three fire engines remain in attendance today.

Earlier advice to close windows and doors is no longer in place.

The blaze broke out at about 1.30pm and a large crowd gathered in the area after emergency services closed off part of Harbour Street.

The Harbour Street end of the building is totally burned out
The Harbour Street end of the building is totally burned out
The aftermath of the cockle shed fire at Whitstable Harbour Picture: Brad Harper
The aftermath of the cockle shed fire at Whitstable Harbour Picture: Brad Harper

Firefighters sprayed foam onto the South Quay Shed to prevent the flames from reaching it, and it is thought to have escaped damage.

No one was injured in the blaze.

Smoke and flames pouring from the building. Picture: Mary Whelan
Smoke and flames pouring from the building. Picture: Mary Whelan

A KCC highways official said traffic was being diverted from Harbour Street to High Street, Oxford Street, Cromwell Road and back onto Harbour Street.

They added: "KCC has been advised the building will be fully demolished tomorrow."

Reporter Lydia Chantler-Hicks, who was at the scene at the height of the blaze, said she could feel the heat from the flames from 100ft away.

"Crews are using jets of water but it doesn't seem to be having any effect," she said.

Dozens of firefighters are said to be at the scene. Picture: Mary Whelan
Dozens of firefighters are said to be at the scene. Picture: Mary Whelan
The aftermath of the cockle shed fire at Whitstable Harbour Picture: Brad Harper
The aftermath of the cockle shed fire at Whitstable Harbour Picture: Brad Harper

"It's a timber building and is burning so hot. Pieces of timber are falling down. Wind is blowing the fire in the direction of the South Quay Shed."

An onlooker told KentOnline: "There's massive amounts of smoke going up. It's really horrible."

Canterbury city councillor Clare Turnbull, who was at the scene, described the smoke as "awful".

She said: "There was really acrid, yellow billowing smoke coming out.

"The flames were blazing out of the shed and they started coming out of the roof of the restaurant above the fish market.

Cllr Clare Turnbull at the scene of the fire
Cllr Clare Turnbull at the scene of the fire
A digger is brought in to help
A digger is brought in to help

"The problem we've got is this gusty wind which is blowing the smoke and flames right across to the other buildings.

"There have been fire engines and police galore, it's really well organised with a quick response.

"One of the main fears is protecting the South Quay Shed that opened just the other day.

"People are worried about their businesses. And also we've got the Jubilee weekend coming up. It's awful timing but the main thing is no one is hurt."

Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More