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Construction of new structure at the old Enson works in Normacot, Stoke-on-Trent. Four bottle kilns are preserved, visible in the background of the shot.

News ‘Out with the old’ – capturing demolition with time-lapse

3 April 2017 Kate

Time-lapse is the ideal tool for tracking progress over long-term or short-term periods, whether a matter of hours, days, weeks, months, or even years.

Camera systems are now a familiar part of any construction landscape, capturing not only the construction itself, but the vital work that needs to be completed on site before such work can begin.

As is evident from the videos featured in this blog, demolitions can be a fascinating process to capture using time-lapse for numerous reasons.

Time-lapse photography can often present some surprising results despite the phases of planning that may be required for certain projects.

Especially the case in the video, the demolition of the Cockenzie coal-fired power station in Scotland attracted quite a crowd who seem to be caught in the extensive fallout as the building is raised to the ground!

As time appears to be moving at a faster pace with time-lapse, the collapse of the building and the scattering of the crowd appears instant, giving the video an amusing quality.

As the power station’s two chimneys were an iconic part of the local coastline, it was no surprise that its eventual decommission attracted a crowd, thus this finished time-lapse edit featuring picturesque skylines offers a special memento of these final moments.

With demolitions that take place in the heart of city, particularly heavily populated urban areas, there needs to be an element of control exercised to carry out these pre-construction processes safely.

This video shows the care and precision that is involved in a controlled demolition of a 1950s residential tower in Toronto, Canada. Implosions would be impossible in this particular case because of the density of the urban area.

The video shows the rigorous work of the mechanical arms as they rip apart the building suite by suite, showing the progress of only a four-hour segment of the overall demolition, emphasising just how time-consuming these processes can be.

Demolition is often the first phase of regeneration – getting rid of the old to make way for the new. However, some demolition projects involve retaining some remanence of the past, particularly in areas with significant cultural heritage.

“Enson Works, Normacot – demolition time-lapse” by Time-Lapse Systems and Inspired Film and Video

Our work with Inspired Film and Video captured the demolition of the former Enson Works in Normacot, Stoke-on-Trent. Special measures had to be put in place to retain the four Grade II listed bottle-neck ovens situated on site.

Dating back to the 1840s, these iconic structures stand as a poignant reminder of the evolving physical and cultural landscape of the city but in their preservation, retain some remnants of the city’s reputable past as part of ‘The Staffordshire Potteries’.

The demolition made way for the construction of CoRE – Centre of Refurbishment Excellence – a base for construction training specialising in restoring old buildings, thus ‘out with the old’ does not necessarily mean without first preserving some history.


Demolition is not only a term that is used for the bulldozing of buildings and large structures – but can also be applied to the process of pulling down the interior of a build.

As in this video, the focus is on deconstruction – with the medium of time-lapse allowing several hours of progress to be shown in four minutes.

No heavy machinery in sight, all ‘demolition’ work is done by hand here, as the studio of what looks to be a news room or other form of televised panel show, is stripped away, piece by piece.

As with some demolitions in heavily concentrated urban areas, the process involves systematic deconstruction of an overall structure in particular stages. Like the other videos we have featured here, time-lapse captures the painstaking labour that is involved in this kind of work – particularly when lighting and electrical wiring is part of the process.

When part of the same visual narrative, demolition and construction show more of an unabridged version of events.

The trajectory of this time-lapse video shows the demolition of an original structure, followed by the construction of one that now stands in its place.

Including time and date markers with the visual progress, the video shows how time-lapse can be utilised as part of a more personal archive, particularly for demolition/ construction projects that are completed on an individual scale. The video even shows the house in its capacity as a home, including still images of the family inside the house once it is completed.

Whilst usually applied to large construction projects, time-lapse is a tool that can be used just as effectively when focusing on demolition work, creating an historical archive of a previous time in the process.

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Time-Lapse Systems are a part of Hideaway Media Ltd (est. 2007). World leader in the provision of bespoke time-lapse capture and site monitoring solutions. UK and Worldwide.