Discussions are ongoing as to when and how to restore Dartmouth’s iconic chimney’s, which until recently, had stood proud above the Old Market for centuries.
The town council dismantled all nine of the two-tonne stacks after they were declared unsafe and in danger of toppling over.
Poorly constructed supporting walls and the removal of chimney breasts during rebuilding works in the 1970s, are to blame for the chimney’s instability, said structural surveyor, Neil Baglow of Lee Ross Associates, in his report.
The fault came to light after one of the market’s support walls, facing Charles Street, collapsed while the council was undertaking a £60,000 refurbishment to the render and lime wash of the walls.
The red bricks used to form all nine chimneys have been saved and will be used to fully restore the landmark features, it is hoped.
The council’s property manager, Richard Roberts, met with South Hams Council’s heritage officer, Richard Gage, last week with a view to deciding the next move.
As a result, the town council, district planners and the heritage officer are working with BBH Architechts to try and find a way to make the supporting walls structurally sound enough to bear the weight of the chimneys, he added.
“Once it’s been worked out, then the chimney’s can be reinstated, but not before that time.
“The wall on the one side collapsed and chimneys were taken down because of a safety issue. We had to consider the safety element of people walking past.”
Mr Crowley continued: “We have secured all the bricks that were removed and stored them off site for assessment and reuse. We will update on the situation after another meeting with the senior planning (heritage) officer.
“Dartmouth Town Council is working with the local planning authority to find a timely solution with regards reinstatement of the chimneys.”
Dartmouth district and county councillor, Jonathan Hawkins, called for the chimneys to be reinstated as soon as possible. “They are, were, a prominent part of the building and I ask they are put back as soon as possible.”
A South Hams Council spokesperson said: “Last week we were made aware the historic chimneys had been removed from the Pannier Market in Dartmouth, which is a listed building. One of the council’s senior planning heritage officers has discussed the matter with Dartmouth Town Council to understand the rationale for the chimneys’ removal in the first instance and then to discuss the timeframe for their reinstatement.
“The meeting was positive from all sides and all parties will work collaboratively together with a view to ensure there is successful reinstatement of these important historic features.”