THE writing was on the wall for a floating hotel which had started sinking, as demolition began 10 years ago today.

The iconic Floatel was built on the River Weaver at Hayhurst Quay in the 1980s, and saw early success as the only hotel in the town centre.

But the credit crunch spelt the end for the unique structure off London Road, with its closure in January 2009 bringing about dereliction, vandalism and, finally, demolition in November.

Northwich Guardian:

The Floatel was a unique structure, and Northwich's only town centre hotel

Its removal paved the way for the redevelopment of Hayhurst Quay, which also saw the Regal cinema demolished to be replaced by Waitrose, Bombay Quay, the Salthouse NW and a new marina.

Then-town mayor Bob Robinson said at the time: “It was something completely unusual and there’s nowhere else in the area that’s ever done that.

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“But while it was excellent in its earlier years, its popularity seems to have diminished and it was in need of refurbishment.”

When owners Real Hotel Company Ltd went into administration, its closed four hotels across the country and the Floatel’s demolition came about sooner than planned – to the dismay of some.

Northwich Guardian:

The Floatel was boarded up and became a 'death trap'

One Guardian reader said he would have liked to see the space redeveloped into offices, and the car park retained.

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British Waterways, a key partner for the ill-fated Northwich Vision project, revealed that in the 10 months since closure, the Floatel had sunk two feet.

A spokesman said: “Demolition of the Floatel was brought forward on safety grounds.

Northwich Guardian:

Demolition began on November 1, 2009

“The building has been sinking since it was vacated and represented a growing safety and health hazard to the public and traffic on the River Weaver. The hotel had suffered sustained damage by vandalism and had sunk two feet below the level which it was originally built.

“Emergency services and local authority environmental health teams agreed on the importance of its removal as soon as possible, with the structure described as a ‘death trap’ by one Northwich police officer.

“British Waterways quickly stepped in to fund clearance of this prime waterfront site, which forms an integral part of Northwich Vision.”

Northwich Guardian:

The Guardian front page when the Floatel closed in January 2009

While Northwich Vision ultimately collapsed later in 2009, the wider regeneration project ploughed on and Waitrose opened at Hayhurst Quay in November 2013, developed by H2O Urban, a joint venture between the developer bloc and landlords the Canal and River Trust.

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Former Northwich MP Graham Evans said: “For the first time we are looking out on to the water, we haven’t got our backs to the river, and Northwich looks like a different town from here.”