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The Princesshay Redevelopment - Page 1

A photo essay by David Cornforth © 2014

Page 1 May 2004 to 2nd June 2005

Page 2 10th June 2005 to 17th November 2005

Page 3 13th December 2005 to 12th July 2006

Page 4 30th July 2006 to 15th March 2007

Page 5 29th March 2007 to Latest Update

Other Related Links City Council Webcam

A timelapse of the demolition of Eastgate House from Debenhams

The controversial redevelopment of Princesshay in Exeter started in 2004 with the refurbishment of Catherine Street adjacent to the ruins of St Catherines Chapel and Almshouses, and the corner of the High Street through to 16-12 Bedford Street, the old TSB/Lloyds Bank and Norwich Union House.

In February 2005, the contractors, Sir Robert McAlpine started boarding up Princesshay, prior to demolition. Although only 50 years old, Princesshay occupies a much older site that was destroyed during bombing of May 1942 - it was Thomas Sharp, the town planner who laid out the 1950s Princesshay.

This photo essay shows the progress of the scheme replacing Sharp's vision with one for a new Millennium.


Post Office - Bedford Street - photo © 2005 David Cornforth princesshay towards the Cathedral - photo © 2005 David CornforthLooking towards the Cathedral - 15th May 2004

Post Office, Bedford Street -14th October 2004

princesshay Commemorative Feature - photo © 2005 David Cornforth Phoenix Plaque - photo © 2005 David CornforthThe Phoenix rises over Princesshay - they had better preserve this....

Princesshay in 1978

Graphic - the new Princesshay - copyright Exeter MemoriesMap of the redeveloped Princesshay

New Princesshay map by David CornforthArtists impression of the new Princesshay

Closing Princesshay down - the shops that have gone......


Blueboy, Princesshay - photo © 2005 David Cornforth The Blueboy looks sadly on to a soon to be forgotten street
14th October 2004

Blueboy Giftshop - photo © 2005 David CornforthThe Blueboy Gift Shop, 50% closing down sale
14th October 2004

Exeter Camera Direct - photo © 2005 David CornforthExeter Cameras Direct, formerly Chris Howes
14th October 2004

Basils Hairdressers - photo © 2005 David Cornforth The entrance to Basil's (closed April 2004) the men's hairdressers and a closed fast food shop
14th October 2004

princesshay - photo © 2005 David CornforthThe green covers of the first stage of redevelopment appear on the TSB/Lloyds building in Bedford Street
14th October 2004

Restaurants, Bedford Stree - photo © 2005 David CornforthRosticceria Italia and the Taverna still have tables waiting for customers
14th October 2004

Phonebox, Princesshay - photo © 2005 David CornforthBoarded up fronts and a flypostered phone kiosk with the Blueboy Giftshop in the background
14th October 2004

Boarded up shop front, Princesshay - photo © 2005 David CornforthAn empty, derelict Princesshay
14th October 2004

Preparations for the grand demolition......


princesshay 10th March 2005 - photo David CornforthPrincesshay with skips waiting for work to start
10th March 2005

princesshay sign and boards - photo © 2005 David CornforthThe Princesshay sign still clings to the wall at Eastgate - the boarding is still to be painted
28th February 2005

Demolition commences......

The Bristol based Wring Group won the contract to demolish Princesshay. They have assembled a workforce of 40 along with specialist machinery for the task. The two Hitachi demolition machines (a Zaxis ZX350LCK and Zaxis 650 LCH) have been purchased especially for the contract. One will have an arm that can extend for 35 metres and there are special attachments to bite away at the buildings, grab hold of girders, dig and hammer solid concrete. They don't have tea making equipment for the driver, even though they do have computer control!

Demolishing shops in Bedford Street - photo David CornforthThe shops opposite the Post Office are virtually gone
10th March 2005

Cathedral from Bedford Street, 10 March 2005 - photo David CornforthThe Cathedral peeps over the two Hitachi digger arms working in Bedford Street
10th March 2005

St Stephens under the digger - photo 2005David Cornforth St Martin's Tower framed by the arm of a digger in Bedford Street
12th March 2005

Demolition men in Bedford Street Three demolition workers in front of a digger - they are standing where the tables for Rostecerria Italia were placed
19th March 2005

Demolishing Princesshay 05/04/05 - photo David CornforthThe machines move in to Princesshay - this is Exeter Cameras and Cummings
5th April 2005

Clearing Bedford Street rubble - photo David CornforthBreaking up the rubble of the old Bedford Street shops makes a lot of dust
5th April 2005

princesshay nibbled away - photo David Cornforth Nibbling away at Princesshay the destruction goes into full swing
5th April 2005

princesshay - mountain of rubble - photo David CornforthThe same view as above from the entrance of the service road - the diggers are on the top of the mountain of rubble. Iron girders have so far resisted the onslaught.
20th April 2005

First signs of rebuilding amidst the demolition


princesshay 29 April 2005 - photo David Cornforth One of the demolition workers guards the gate to the site, while the diggers continue their work. The mountain of rubble has been considerably reduced since the 20th April above.
29th April 2005

princesshay 29th April 2005 - photo David Cornforth The rubble has been reduced in this view of the demolition site, while the cellars have been exposed. Note the vertical steel girders.
29th April 2005

6th May 2005 - The last of Princesshay at the Bedford Street end is being demolished. I have included the Bluecoat Lane photo as it will soon be gone. There is an interesting article about the machinery used in the demolition in June's issue of Earthmovers. I was also informed, when chatting to some of the workers that the remains of German bombs and incendiaries were found under the Bedford Street section of the demolition.

The entrance to Bluecoat Lane - photo David Cornforth The sign for Bluecoat Lane on the side of the post office - everything opposite this has gone - see the two photos above. This will also be demolished.
6th May 2005

First new service road off bedford Street - photo David CornforthA temporary service road of the Princesshay Redevelopment has now been laid - a few weeks ago this area was shops. The photo of the 5th April shows a digger and a dust cloud in the same location.
6th May 2005

princesshay main site 24 May 2005 - photo David CornforthThe Princesshay site from the main entrance - the mountains of rubble have been reduced and only a short range of buildings at the top left remain. The view is open to Eastgate House. The pad of the commemorative feature has now gone.
24th May 2005

Eastgate House 24th May 2005 - photo David Cornforth The Princesshay site from the city wall and across Post Office Street. The last section behind Virgin Records still stands while Eastgate House on the right waits for its fate.
24th May 2005

27th May 2005 - there are more signs of rebuilding even though there is still Eastgate House, the Paris Street shops and the post office to demolish. The large, vertical machines that will hammer the pilings in for the foundations in Bedford Street are in place with behind, the brick facade on the old Norwich Union building almost in place - these are to be apartments with a walkway through to Catherine Square beneath the building. Work on demolishing Eastgate House has been slightly delayed because the underground passages are not strong enough to take the weight of the Hitachi demolition machines - apparently they are to bring in a temporary bridge structure to take the weight of the diggers.

princesshay from Post Office Street 27th May 2005 pgoto David CornforthAnother view of the main demolition site from Post Office Street, with one digger working in the background and one standing by.
27th May 2005

Paris Street demolition 27th May 2005 - photo David CornforthA smaller digger dragging one of the large containers ready for work on the back of the Paris Street shops. A so called 'soft' demolition has already been carried out, removing carpets, electrics, asbestos and internal equipment.
27th May 2005

30th May 2005 - the demolition of the Paris Street shops has started

Paris Street - 30th May 2005 - photo David Cornforth From the front the Paris Street shops still look complete.
30th May 2005

Demolition starts on Paris Street - photo David CornforthThe rear of the Paris Street shops are succombing to the diggers. In my previous photo on Friday morning,(above) work had not started.
30th May 2005

2nd June 2005 - it was all going on today with diggers knocking down walls and moving rubble. Lorries were delivering infill for bringing the cellars up to street level. The Princesshay Information Centre has moved into a space in the High Street so that you can see what is going on through an observation window. There was also an Exeter Archeologist taking photos of the exposed cellars and old foundations.

Nibbling away 2 June 2005 - photo David Cornforth The last shops behind the High Street and next to the Virgin Megastore are now being removed.
2nd June 2005

Taking photos 2 June 2005 - photo David Cornforth An archeologist is taking a photographic record of the foundations and cellars of Princesshay. There are all sorts of ancient walls and mysterious holes that will need investigation.
2nd June 2005

Clearing around the Nationwide 2 June 2005 - photo David CornforthThe cellar of the Nationwide Building Society has been exposed while a digger is piling up the rubble prior to removal.
2nd June 2005

Lets see 2 June 2005 - photo David CornforthA good crowd of people are enjoying the action from the new observation window. The old arcade in the High Street has been converted into the Princesshay Information Centre with a model of the new development and this viewing area.
2nd June 2005

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