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Demolition

Just as the construction of the CML building was a monumental exercise, so was its demolition. The interior timber and marble fittings were stripped first and sold off. Whelan the Wrecker then had to develop special techniques to handle the giant blocks forming the shell of the building. Each block had to be angle-drilled then pinned in order to hoist it from its position and lower it to the ground. The largest capacity crane in Melbourne at the time was specified to lift only seven tonnes but handled blocks weighing eleven tonnes. Holes were punched through each floor so that the blocks could be lowered safely internally and not above the street. The keystone above the portico could not be removed intact and had to be jackhammered away. It took nearly twelve months to bring the building down and while seven lives were lost during construction, none was lost during the demolition.

Stages in the demolition of the Colonial Mutual Life Building, 1960

Photographs: Myles Whelan

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magnifyPhotograph: Myles Whelan
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