DEMOLITION worker Tony Blakeley is the keeper of 'The Beast' and soon it will be time to let it loose.

The Hitachi Zaxis 490 LCH excavator has been brought in to reduce Northgate House in Cornmarket Street to rubble in a £36m scheme led by Jesus College.

Once Northgate House, on the corner of Market Street has gone, a new building will be constructed, featuring new retail units, with student accommodation and facilities above.

Oxford Mail:

Mr Blakeley, who works for Scudder Demolition on the project led by BAM Construction, said: “This machine is huge - a real beast.

READ AGAIN: College history goes on show in Cornmarket

“It weighs 47 tonnes and it’s a muncher - it will gradually take down the block from back to front in a very safe controlled way.

“It came into Market Street on a loader about midnight last night and it’s a sign of progress - major demolition could start within a few weeks.”

Mr Blakeley said shoppers in Cornmarket would notice a change once scaffolding was taken down.

Oxford Mail:

BAM Construction said work on the Northgate House development was running to schedule.

READ AGAIN: Artwork will cover Cornmarket demolition hoardings

A spokeswoman said: “This week saw the delivery of the main demolition plant - a large piece of specialised equipment which is now on-site and will be used to dismantle the remaining structures.

“The equipment was delivered overnight to minimise disruption for local residents and traders.

Oxford Mail:

“Over the next few weeks the perimeter protection scaffold around the site will be extended, remaining demolition completed and all waste material removed as this phase of preparatory work nears completion.

“Work will take place inside the perimeter so there will be very little disruption to the public.

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“The main construction work will begin in the autumn.”

Traders and residents are being updated regularly with monthly community meetings taking place and regular newsletters being distributed.

Jesus College has installed hoardings in Cornmarket to remind shoppers about its history.

Oxford Mail:

It has commissioned a designer to create colourful information panels to be displayed throughout the duration of the construction work.

The hoardings tell the story of the historic college, from the 16th century when it was founded by Queen Elizabeth I to the present day.

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It celebrates famous alumni, including Prime Minister Harold Wilson, and TE Lawrence - better known as Lawrence of Arabia.

Oxford Mail:

It also notes historic and culturally significant milestones, such as the admission of women undergraduates at the previously all-male college in 1974.

Designer Gareth Wild, of Apropos - working in partnership with the college - is a graduate of the Royal College of Art.

Oxford Mail:

He has worked closely with Jesus College Fellows, the Principal Sir Nigel Shadbolt, college librarian Owen McKnight and design researcher Bev Saunders. The college was founded in 1571.