'Why weren't we told about lift tower?'

Stunned residents reacted angrily this morning when they woke to discover teams of workmen had moved in overnight to start demolition work on the Express Lift Tower.

It is believed the doomed tower will be completely felled within the next 24 hours.

The 418ft tower was previously diagnosed with having so-called 'concrete cancer' and experts said it was being taken down to prevent the disease from spreading.

The workforce moved on to the site near Franklin's Gardens at about 2.15am to begin preparatory work, with the first stages of the demolition under way before dawn, after a bulldozer was lifted by crane to the top of the building.

Irate resident Shirley Knott said: "I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I only moved here to be near the tower, I love it. I woke up this morning, drew the curtains and saw them taking it down, bit by bit. I think it's appalling."

Her neighbour Joe King said: "There has been absolutely no consultation with the residents whatsoever. We feel totally let down. The lift tower is one of the most important aspects of Northampton; it's a treasure of the town yet we are doing nothing to protect it."

The tower gained the nickname "The Northampton Lighthouse" from broadcaster Terry Wogan on his BBC Radio 2 programme.

What do you think about the decision to demolish the tower? Call the Chron on Northampton 467030 or send an email to editor@northantsnews.co.uk.

The Chronicle & Echo contacted Mr Wogan on his breakfast show this morning to break the news.

More than a dozen workers were expected to work around the clock to demolish the tower. A giant red crane arrived on site this morning to aid access to the top of the tower.

The painstaking task will see the top section of the tower cut down by bulldozer, but dozens of residents were due to be evacuated from their homes this evening when the remaining structure is demolished by a minor explosion.

All those affected will be housed in a designated holding area in Weedon Road during the explosion, which is expected to take about 40 minutes.

It is not yet known what will happen to the area left vacant by the removal of the tower but rumours are circulating that plans for the doomed Needle structure, originally earmarked for the area near the town's railway station, could be revived.