Even More about the Mole Man and the Vandalism of my Home Borough….

Thanks to Paul at the most wonderful Derelict London for the pics and updates on this….close to my heart, as this stands diagonally opposite my parents’ house, and dead opposite my uncle’s.

This was in The Times on the subject……

Mole Man faces £100,000 bill for undermining the neighbourhood

“LIKE the Victorian builders of the Underground, William Lyttle loves the soft London clay.

For the past 40 years the 75-year-old eccentric retired electrical engineer has been tunnelling under his derelict home on the Islington- Hackney border, upsetting the neighbours — not to mention their foundations — and spoiling the ambience of an otherwise desirable enclave barely a mile north of the City.

You would think that Mr Lyttle was trying to dig his way out of a wartime German prison camp like Steve McQueen and Charles Bronson in The Great Escape. But, as he revealed in a television documentary on great DIY disasters five years ago, it was only his idea of home extension.

Most people expand outwards or upwards; he went downwards, through the clay and into the underlying gravel and the water table.

Concerned for years at his troglodytic activites, Hackney council has finally won a court order to evict him temporarily from his now-roofless home so that it can carry out £100,000 of emergency repairs to make the property safe.

Council engineers told Thames Magistrates’ Court last week that Mr Lyttle’s tunnels could extend as much as 60ft (18m) beyond his basement, burrowing under the adjoining road and raising the possibility that a fully laden double- decker bus could, at a moment’s notice, be swallowed up by his subterranean workings.

The Times visited the site yesterday to find the house surrounded by a high steel fence. There was one loose panel through which, with effort, it would have been possible to get in. Mr Lyttle has not taken up the council’s offer of bed-and-breakfast accommodation and has, as it were, gone to ground.

In the television documentary Mr Lyttle, originally from Northern Ireland, proudly displayed his excavation technique using only a shovel, a homemade pulley and his feet. “This is how the pyramids were built — with blood, sweat and toil,” he told the camera.

Many of his tunnels were big enough to stand up in. “This is going to be the leisure centre,” he said, sweeping his hand round a large cavern. “And this in here will be the sauna.”

The development of Hackney’s first underground leisure centre appears to have been arrested at birth. Engineers, who recently made a preliminary inspection, took away more than 20 tonnes of excavated soil and assorted rubbish.

They found the foundations of the four-storey, twenty-room house shored up with makeshift scaffolding poles and pit props. They plan to fill the tunnels with cement to stabilise the house and the road. Mr Lyttle will be sent the bill.

Hackney council said it believed that Mr Lyttle had inherited the house, which in good condition today would be worth at least £1 million, from his parents about forty years ago. A fire in 1999 caused extensive damage, and Mr Lyttle repaired the roof by helping himself to corrugated iron sheets put up by the council as a barrier round the property.

Council officials claimed that, despite the gradual decay, they had been powerless to act as it was private property, but had now won a court order by proving that it had become a danger to the public.

Eric Bussey, 72, and his wife Hilda, 81, who live directly opposite, said that they had seen the property deteriorate over the 30 years they had lived there. “A great big hole appeared in the pavement one day, then cracks appeared in the road, which is a bus route,” Mrs Bussey said.

Mr Lyttle will be allowed home once the repairs have been completed. But there is no guarantee that the Mole Man of Hackney will not be on the burrow again.”

Hmmmm. My Dad has lived there for 66 years…..and Hilda and Eric don’t like anyone much! The Man is MAD! The latest I’ve heard is that he has actually been sectioned, as he kept breaking back in to the house. Hackney were apparently going to compulsorily purchase it…..

Do I trust them? Once upon a time, there was The Dalston Theatre, and a block of gorgeous georgian though derelict houses on Dalston Lane.

What there is now is a big hole, waiting for a megaplex which will degenerate as quickly as the rest of Hackney’s modern jerrybuilding. They can never renovate anything old and beautiful, they seem compelled to knock it down and build sink council estates on it….grrrrrrr rant!

This is what they intend to build instead.

If this was anywhere else, it would have become a community resource. But it’s in Hackney, so they knocked it down on the sly. In aid of what. The Olympics that no-one wants and which is robbing Hackney of any green space and character………

To read more about their hideous plans read:

http://opendalston.blogspot.com/

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