Handiwork of a master blaster

This photo showing the handiwork of renowned demolition man Blaster Bates reminded David Adams of Newport of an anecdote about his demolition of these chimneys at Snedshill.

A chimney is felled at Snedshill in October 1967.
A chimney is felled at Snedshill in October 1967.

Our photo, which we carried as a flashback a little while ago, shows the day in October 1967 that one of the Victorian chimneys at the Snedshill site of the Lilleshall Company was blown up and brought down.

Afterwards David dropped us a line to say: "Your photo reminded me of an amusing tale of years ago.

"The fellow who felled the chimney, and probably all of them, was a real character known as Blaster Bates, who hailed from Sandbach, Cheshire. He was well known in the 1960s and used to come to give talks at Young Farmers Club meetings and so on.

"He once came to tell us about the demolition of a Lilleshall Company chimney. Apparently one day a photographer knocked on his door saying he had been told of the impending demolition and he would like to photograph it. Bates agreed that he could.

"Some time later he came back to say he had a problem, he had no means of getting to the site, and could Bates take him?

"This Blaster agreed to do. When they got there the photographer asked where he was likely to get the best picture.

"Bates with a big grin replied: 'Go and stand between those two buildings over there, you will get the best picture ever taken, of the chimney actually falling – towards you!'

"The fellow quickly made off in that direction, but must have suddenly changed his mind.

"Afterwards, Bates asked him if he had got a good picture. The fellow answered: 'No, I forgot to take the lens cap off.'

"This was obviously his reply to the leg pull – as seen in your photo."

Of course, as owners of SLR cameras will know – assuming the photo was taken with an SLR – it would have been a very unlikely mistake for the photographer to have made.

In SLR cameras, thanks to a mirror, the photographer actually views the image through the lens so would immediately have realised if the lens cap was left on.

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