Thorpe Marsh Power Station

Date Visited: April 2011

I spent some time on secondment from work in Lincolnshire and on my weekly drive home up I saw numerous power stations and cooling towers dotted around. I’d seen a number of reports on various urbex forms of the Cooling Towers at Thorpe marsh, and read that demolition was imminent. So I took a slight detour on the way home to see them and noted that the perimeter fence was somewhat porous, and decided to return better equipped for a look round.
The six cooling towers and two ash slurry hoppers were all that remained of the power station. Construction began in 1959, it being built as a prototype for all the large modern power stations in the UK. It was commissioned between 1963 and 1965 and contained 2 generating sets powered by coal, and had a gas turbine set using an industrial static version of a Rolls-Royce Avon aero engine with a capacity of 14.9 MW.
Initially being operated by the Central Electricity Generating Board, the station was operated by National Power following privatisation in 1990. The station closed a few years later in 1994 and the transformers removed almost immediately. The 45 site was acquired by Able UK for demolition in 1995, and the boiler house and other main buildings were demolished in 1996, with the three chimneys following in 1999.
The six cooling towers were each 340 ft (100 m) high and as such could normally be seen for miles around on the flat landscape, however, on my return visit, most of Yorkshire was covered in a blanket of fog. Fortunately, my satnav took me right to the main gates and it was only here that I could see that the towers were still standing. Venturing onto the site in the fog was quite eerie, with the quietness only punctuated by the occasional passing train shrieking along the adjacent railway line. Slowly through the fog began to lift, and I ventured in and around these gigantic structures.
The cooling towers were left standing for so long because it was feared that any explosion would cause the banks of the nearby canal to rupture. They also contained asbestos, which would contaminate land for miles around the site. However, they were finally demolished in 2012, not by the conventional method of explosives, but by pulling them down with chains attached to bulldozers.

A more detailed write up is on my blog.

A detailed history can be found here:

Some excellent photos on Flickr from the 1990's, as well as some archive documents.

The demolition company posted a video of the demoliton on YouTube

Another video of the power station in action here