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Report - Willington 'A' & 'B' Power Stations' Cooling Towers, Derbyshire, April 2011


Conquistador d'Wolverton
28DL Full Member
Hey Guys,

The Explore

The cooling towers dominate the local skyline, providing an abrupt contrast with the rural surroundings. The shape of the towers is notably more curvaceous than the newer Radcliffe power station further downstream of the Trent. The acoustic properties of the insides of the towers are peculiar, reflecting all internal sounds almost perfectly and reverberating up inside the tower. The effect is that the sound of a stone hitting the floor, echoes back like a distant avalanche, and walking on top of the rubble sounds like a platoon of people marching around the perimeter of the tower.

The volume and scale of the towers belies their slenderness, and can only be fully comprehended when a small opening near the throat is understood as a doorway. the shapes of the towers provided an interesting contrast to the bottle kilns at Stoke which we had visited earlier in the day, and whilst their function was entirely different it provided and interesting summation of chimney design past and present.


Willington Power Station was in fact two, almost entirely separate stations, within the same site. Willington ‘A’ and ‘B’ shared coal and water supplies, but had separate management and staff. The site was chosen for its close proximity to the Derbyshire coalfields via the mainline railway, and water via the river Trent.

Work on Willington ‘A’ began in 1954, and comprised of 4no 100MW generating units, along with two 425ft chimneys and two cooling towers (The two running north to south on the western side). The design of station ‘A’ was semi-outdoors, hailed as a revolution in its day saving on construction costs, but not popular with the workers. Station A was brought up to full operating capacity on 10th July 1959, however the generator units were soon upgraded to 104MWs each, limiting the station’s spare capacity. At its height the Station consumed a million tonnes of coal a year.
In early 1957, whilst Willington ‘A’ was near completion, the Central Electricity Authority began work on Willington ‘B’. Willington B comprised of 2no 200MW units, therefore equalling the capacity of Station ‘A’, one 425ft chimney, but oddly 3 cooling towers (the three to the north of the site).

The Cooling towers are 300ft (91m) high, 145ft (43m) at their top, 218ft (66m) and 122ft (37m) at their throat. Each tower has an effective cooling surface of 858,000 square feet.

Privitisation wasn’t kind to Willingon ‘A’ which was starting to show its age when compared with Radcliffe downstream. Units 3 and 4 were shut down in 1989, and finally unit 1 was de-synchronised with the grid at 18:00hrs, 30th Spetember 1994.

Meanwhile Station ‘B’ was effectively run into the ground, with the final unit , unit 6 being de-synchronised on 31st March 1999, ending 41years of power generation at Willington.

The Future

In February 2011, RWE npower announced that it had been given planning consent to construct as new 2,400 MW power generation facility at Willington. The plans include a 2,00MW combined cycle gas turbine plant, and a 400MW open cycle gas turbine. Three times the generating capacity of the former ‘A’ and ‘B’ stations, but an interesting continuity of two distinct facilities.


2 - Proposed Power Station at Willington













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