Caught In The FogLight – Ghosts Of Cooling Towers Past


This photo was taken at the end of November not long before Ironbridge Power Station was spectacularly demolished. I’ve always been drawn to the epic quality of the cooling towers, though not necessarily always in a comfortable way.  I’m ever a sucker for earthenware and the smooth curves of the terracotta brickwork, and the way it caught the light, certainly did appeal. I’ve not yet been back to Dale End Park in Coalbrookdale to see what the Severn Gorge looks like without the towers. I’m thinking a loss of grandeur.

The CGI below envisages a complete small town of 1000 houses plus community infrastructure for this riverside cul de sac, though there is the surprising inclusion of a steam railway. You can see the recently submitted plans HERE and HERE. The cooling towers occupied the area above the far left-hand bridge. The bridge on the far right is the Buildwas Bridge. This is the road to Much Wenlock a few miles away. The road to Telford (a new town with massive ongoing housing development, plus well planned existent infrastructure, schools, shopping centres, station, motorway and industrial complexes) runs along the bottom of the photo. Access to it from the Power Station site is over the narrow Buildwas Bridge (???)

power station development

Photo: Harworth Group Ironbridge Power Station Proposed Development Plan

January Light #15

26 thoughts on “Caught In The FogLight – Ghosts Of Cooling Towers Past

    1. We’ve got a big secondary school Academy in Wenlock so that’s another option. The railway line is the existing one that brought in coal and wood chips for the power station. The line runs through Coalbrookdale behind the Museum of Iron, and presumably joins the main line somewhere (Wellington/Telford?). The steam train business I’m guessing will be giving the existing Horsehay Steam Trust more line to play with. Can’t see the steam train being useful for practical purposes, not unless they run a diesel trains on the line in between. Also got impression the Edwardian (?) railway bridge over the river is in need of an upgrade.

      1. Sounds like the railway needs a lot more thought. Steam trains are a nice tourist attraction but not practical for commuting. Do you think the plans will get approved?

  1. I wonder if there is a central computer or perhaps algorithm that generates planning applications? This one reads very like those for developments here (without the steam train), and the results are never much like what’s promised.
    Lovely photo Tish.

      1. I’m sure you’re right. Time is money. And most of the housing developments in the UK look as if they’ve come from some central design file. All down to a price of course.

  2. They always put lots and lots of full grown trees in their plans, but all too often they never appear when it comes around to actually creating it! Off now to read the plans . . . does sound as though they are trying to fit too much in and over that bridge too!

  3. I hate to sound dumb, but what were the cooling towers cooling? Were they attached to something else that needed cooling? I have to admit I’m not exactly expert on old rural English farm technology, but I figure it had a purpose at some point, but I have no idea what.

    1. They were part of the electricity generating system for the coal and wood chip fuelled power station, used to dissipate the heat from turbines via water vapour through the top. If you click on the link in the para referring to their demolishment it will take you to the December post where there’s a video showing the whole site. The 4 towers were HUGE – built in the ’60s I think. Now we get our power from the National Grid.

      1. Ah. Just like the Blackstone was and to some degrees, it still is, used. Except now the plants are all nuclear generators. I think everyone in the valley must glow at night. Now they are trying to figure out what to do about all those aging generators. They haven’t fully cleaned up the mess left by the old mills and factors from the 1800s … and now there’s leftover nuclear material and nowhere on earth to put it.

        We sure have made a mess of things. I’ll go back and see the demolition. Watching old generating plants be destroyed improves my mood nominally.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.