WITH cooling towers at Didcot A power station about to come down, we delve into the archives to look back at dramatic demolitions in Oxfordshire over the years. Andrew Ffrench reports
SOON three of the cooling towers at Didcot A power station will be going, going gone.
During the early hours of Sunday, July 27, the three 325ft towers will be blasted to smithereens.
Energy company RWE nPower has said the three towers will be blown down between 3am and 5am, but has not given a specific time and residents have urged the firm to switch the time to 6am.
In July 1964, bricks came tumbling down as the chimney at the Swan Bakery site in Paradise Street, St Ebbe’s, Oxford, was demolished to make way for an office block
Didcot resident Christine Reardon handed in a petition on behalf of residents, featuring about 2,700 names, demanding that the time of demolition should be switched.
Des Healy, town councillor who worked at the power station for 27 years until he retired in 1999, said: “RWE nPower should organise a raffle or a draw and the person with the winning ticket should press the button to detonate the towers.
“In the old days of the Central Electricity Generating Board this was a widely used practice when a power station came to the end of its working life.
“Money could be raised in this way for local charities.
“There should be some community involvement organised – power stations closing is nothing new.”
In September 1960, engineers drilled the base of a chimney to take an explosiove charge at the Central Ordnance Depot in Milton near Didcot
Mr Healy said he believed it would be safer for demolition contractors Coleman and Company to blow up the cooling towers in daylight.
He added: “Every other power station that has been blown up in the daylight.
“Correct me if I am wrong but I don’t think it has ever been done in the dark before.”
Banbury's Hunt Edmunds brewery chimney was demolished in September 1974
Earlier this year Nick Williamson, managing director of Oxford-based demolition contractor Maylarch, said a controlled implosion would be the most likely method of bringing down the cooling towers.
He said there would be a controlled implosion using explosives, and added that the contractors could pre-weaken the structure to make sure it collapses in a certain way, with charges set so they will only detonate in one direction.
So far RWE nPower has refused to give in to residents’ demands regarding the time of demolition.
Taking down the cooling towers by no means the first major demolition project in the county.
PAUL'S MALT IS NO MORE
A dramatic demolition took place at Paul’s Malt in June, 2001.
Wallingford’s famous landmark was removed in seconds when explosives packed around its base were detonated.
There are now houses where the maltings building once stood off Hithercroft Road.
WALKERS' BLANKET MILL, WITNEY
The 100ft chimney at the old Walkers’ Blanket Mill in Witney, which was demolished in April, 1983.
The chimney in The Crofts was reduced to a pile of bricks by demolition experts.
The former blanket mill was converted to a 50-home housing estate.
TOWER REFUSED TO BUDGE FOR 10 MINUTES
The demolition of this 87ft water tower, with a 37-ton tank on top, made a dramatic picture when it was demolished in June, 1964.
The tower at the old Wheatley Military Hospital site came down after the bottom corners were fitted with 25 two-ounce charges.
A bulldozer was also called in after it remained standing for 10 minutes following the detonation.
MAKING WAY FOR OXFORD PARKWAY
FOR decades the grain silo at Water Eaton, near Kidlington, dominated the skyline from the A34 and the Oxford-Kidlington Road.
But in November last year it was demolished to make way for the new Oxford Parkway railway station which Chiltern Railways is building.
The grain silo was built at the start of the Second World War but the building fell into disrepair and became a target for vandals and graffiti artists.
The new station – with its car park of more than 800 spaces – is expected to open in summer 2015 The silo closed in the late 1980s, then the yard and outbuildings were used by several businesses, including a pet food supplier and a car breaker.
Our top stories