Family-run firm appeals for help after cliff collapses and ‘destroys’ business


*If you would like to support Lancebox in its recovery, or have a premises from which they can operate, please see the end of this article for contact details.  

Family-run Lancebox Limited in Kent is facing untold losses in assets and trade.
Family-run Lancebox Limited in Kent is facing untold losses in assets and trade.

A thriving business brought to its knees when a cliff collapsed and destroyed its base of operations is appealing to the industry for help. 

Family-run Lancebox Limited in Kent is facing untold losses in assets and trade after a section of chalk cliff supporting the A226 Galley Hill Road in Swanscombe collapsed onto its premises at Manor Way Business Park on 10 April.  

Investigations to establish the cause of the landslide are underway, with emergency services initially cordoning the area off and Dartford Borough Council declaring it a major incident. 

Thames Water said it had dispatched engineers to reports of a burst water main on Galley Hill Road, shutting off the water supply. It said it was working with Kent County Council who are responsible for highway maintenance.  

Speaking to Construction Wave, Lancebox said it is doing what it can to salvage the business with no internet, tenders piling up, and tools, vehicles and other high-value assets still buried beneath the rubble. 

Lancebox is desperately seeking a new workshop to trade from, while supporting a direct workforce of 60 “good, honest, hard-working people” fighting to keep the demolition, cladding removal and asbestos specialist in business.  

“The main thing we need at the minute is an operational workshop for the vehicles,” said estimator and employee of six years, Jake Hughes. “We’re plodding along at the minute getting what we can done, but the broadband has been down for a couple of weeks. Tender enquiries are coming through the main server, big attachments are coming in, we’re tendering still but weeks are going by, meaning we could be late with submissions or miss key information.  

“We’re incurring costs still because, for compliance, we’re meant to have a workshop for our vehicles, and if you don’t have a workshop you need to outsource any maintenance for your vehicles. We’re having to outsource all of the work for our vehicles so we’re still compliant.” 

Jake told of the shock he felt at the destruction and how lucky it was that no one was hurt or killed, given at least 10 staff are in the office most days. 

“My first reaction was shock, thinking what could have happened had someone been in there,” he said. “Luckily, it happened over the bank holiday, so no one was in there. But the desk where one of our mechanics works at the back is completely destroyed. If he’d been there, it would have likely been fatal. There’s always been leaks on the road. Our understanding is a burst water main seeped into the chalk cliff, the weight got to be too much, and it came down. 

Family-run Lancebox Limited in Kent is facing untold losses in assets and trade.“We’ve lost our workshop, our warehouse with all our materials, machinery, and a lorry. There’s another van. Mobile demolition machines. We also store some of the salvage. We had dust suppression machines, all the mechanic’s tools. We’re talking thousands of pounds just in hand tools. And some of the breakers in the warehouse can be £3,000 each. The stock that we had was substantial, it’s not a few tools, we’re talking hundreds that have been lost.” 

Jake said though the authorities had written to Lancebox, the company feels “kept in the dark like mushrooms”.  

“We don’t know who we need to go to,” he said. “We don’t know what the claim will be. We’ve had an interruption to the business and then all the associated outsourcing and maintenance costs. We’re in limbo. We need someone to come down and tell us what to do. We’re looking for another premises, but we can’t just shut the business down, we’ve all got jobs, we’ve all got mouths to feed. We need to keep going as long as we can.  

“We don’t know what dialog the authorities are having. There’s been zero activity down here. It’s shocking really, the lack of interest. No one’s popped in to tell us how things are moving forward. We’re being kept in the dark like mushrooms.” 

A Thames Water spokesperson said: “On Monday 10 April, we responded to reports of a 150mm burst water main on Galley Hill Road (A226). Our engineers have shut off the water supply from the affected mains pipe and we are keeping local customers’ taps flowing using tankers. We are also exploring options to move water around our network to help keep them in supply. 

“Investigations are being undertaken to establish the cause of the landslide. The police have closed the road and an exclusion zone is in place with 24/7 security remaining on site.  

“As a first responder to the site our priority was to ensure the safety of the general public and we installed around the clock security. We are now handing over control of the site to Kent County Council as the road and its repair and maintenance falls under the jurisdiction of the Highways Authority. We will continue to work in collaboration with all the relevant authorities.” 

Dartford Borough Council and Kent County Council did not provide a response before going to press. 

If you would like to support Lancebox in its recovery, or have a premises from which they can operate, please contact them here. 

More contact details for Lancebox: 



01322 427 482 

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