The Athlone Towers came down today.
For those watching, it was mostly a disappointment. The towers were blown up 4 minutes early, catching most unawares, backs turned, or video cameras still bagged. eTV’s footage consisted of a surprised presenter and a hurried jump to a disappearing cloud of smoke. The Zoopy servers failed under the strain, and I was racing to a viewing point, and missed the whole thing.
I grew up under the Athlone Towers, in Pinelands, when they were still functioning as a coal power station. When the wind blew a certain direction, there were coal flecks on the window sills, and our washing was stained black if we were unlucky enough to have chosen the wrong day. Pinelands also suffered, and probably still does, from the “Pinelands Pong”, when the joyous smell of the sewage works drifted our way. In typical apartheid planning though, the wind mostly blew the other direction, and Athlone suffered the worst of it.
The area was believed to suffer higher rates of asthma and other breathing difficulties, and it was a happy day when the power station was decommissioned, firstly kept operational for emergency use, and finally taken offline completely.
A childhood landmark has gone – let’s hope the land gets put to better use now.
With the poor timing by the demolishers, there’s not much good video video footage available, but here are the best two I could find:
Here’s a great video of the demolition: