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Report - Weston Point Power Station - Runcorn - May 2011

Discussion in 'Noteworthy Reports' started by Speed, May 10, 2011.

  1. Speed

    Speed Got Epic?
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    Hands up please if you even knew this place existed before seeing this!? 6 months ago i had no idea until a couple of photos briefly appeared on a popular UE forum. They didn't show much, just a row of disused turbines and some rusty pipes, as a serial power plant lover however that's all i needed to see for it to grab my attention.. The photos appeared under a false name and the original poster (obviously an employee of the plant) quickly had them removed and remained tight lipped as to their location. As usual within 24 hours of someone posting a 'secret location' myself and a few other crack researchers had managed to twig where it was. Moral of the story? You want to keep secrets... Keep your mouth shut!

    The history of the station is a tad vague. I can only find a handful of references to it online. It was constructed sometime between 1910 and 1920 to serve the new Castner Kellner plant at Runcorn's Weston Point. The plant, originally built to produce various acids and alkalis through electrolysis later came under the ownership of ICI and today is run by Ineos Fluor. The original turbine sets were replaced by more up to date Parsons units in the 1930s (two of which remain in situe) and sometime during the 1950s four of those were replaced with upgraded AEI/Vickers sets. In 1998 the more modern 'Rocksavage' station opened on the other side of the ICI Runcorn site rendering Weston Points generation capacity obsolete.

    Now i have mentioned the first hurdle (actually working out where the place was!) but it was far from a case of just rocking up one day for a look.. Next i started to consider how we could get near it. The station may not generate anymore but it became obvious it was far from derelict. The biggest issue is probably its location being slap bang in the middle of one of Britain's biggest chemical works.. Much studying of google maps ensued but there didn't appear to be a clowns pocket in sight. To the south the works stretched over 2 miles along the side of the Weaver Navigation and the the north lay a similar distance of either works or off limits docks into the Manchester Ship.. The thought of simply hopping the fence and taking our chances did cross my mind but with 500m+ of live chemical works to cross it would have had to have been a risky night job, night jobs mean no photos and excessive risk is a thing taken by explorers desperate to impress.

    In the end only one solution seemed to work for me.. Boat! An early start should see us cover the 2 mile stretch of canal in time to enter works and access the station before sun up yet still get good daylight pictures and leave before the 6am shift change could 'possibly' mix things up.. Only one problem, it was the middle of winter and this plan would only work once sunrise reached around 5am.. I took the decision to shelve our plans at the time but what with all the other epic that has gone on already this year things soon come around and last weekend we found ourself inflating and fuelling up ready for a 3:30am launch. I had run the timing over and over in my head but really a lot was still left to chance. Would we get spotted/heard on the water? Just how manned would the plant and station be at 5am? those are the kind of risks you really just have to take, the kind that give this game its edge.

    Launch from the local rowing club jetty went well and we started on up the canal. At first the works glowed in the distance but before long we were motoring right through its heart. Steam billowed out across the water and effluent being ejected created a luke warm foam on the surface. It felt wrong to be there but the plan was working, we didn't see a soul and the various sounds of equipment on the shore more the drowned out the sound of our humble outboard steed. Before long we were outside the station and spotting a place to moor up we were out and over the pitiful fence quickly, still without signs of any resistance. The station itself posed some difficulty but nothing a bit of climbing couldn't fix and before long we found ourself peering though a hole into the dusky tubine hall.. Win!

    Carefully we proceeded to scout around some of the derelict part of the building. A small 70s control room lay abandoned along side a small hall with coal hoppers and signs about 'bunker rooms' and other tantalising epic. I headed through in the direction of what i thought to be the boiler house but access to different areas was sealed quite well on the inside and i turned back before seeing anything too good. The sun was starting to rise so we headed to the main turbine room. Light shone out from a central window overlooking the whole hall. We decided this would have probably been the original control room but motion in the room suggested it was far from disused. Next door to the turbine hall was another sizeable hall with bays for rectifying equipment presumably to turn the AC current to DC for use in the electrolysis process. Again this hall was far from derelict, transformers hummed and noises in the distance cause us to make a hasty retreat. A few photos and a bit of video later we made our way out not wanting to push it to hard. What we had seen was more then enough to keep my power station craving happy for a few more months at least!

    The photos and video in this report are an amalgamation of both myself and Dweebs efforts and indeed big thanks to 'first mate stu' for the company. He didn't even get scared that the lights were on :p

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    Check out my shoddy video editing aswell: http://vimeo.com/23473768

     

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  2. green godess

    green godess 28DL Full Member
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    Truly Amazing ! You folks have got some real "bottle".

    Wouldn't it have been good to put the entire station 'on-line' for a few minutes !

    Jolly well done you two and thanks for sharing the efforts of your stealth excursion.

    Best regards from

    G.G.
     
  3. mrwhite

    mrwhite 28DL Regular User
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    Now this is brilliant, well done
     
  4. BethRose

    BethRose 28DL Member
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    Brilliant work everyone involved, sometimes you just have to take a risk. My next project is a bit risky but it's been left untouched for years and security have stopped visiting so now is my chance. Thanks for sharing I enjoyed seeing your photos. :Not Worthy
     
  5. WhoDaresWins

    WhoDaresWins Let's do this
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    Beautiful place. Nicely photographed.
     
  6. Lescam

    Lescam 28DL Full Member
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    Used to go in Rocksavage a lot with demolition breakers in the late 90s but never seen anything like this. I wish I had a camera in the cab back then, been to all sorts of interesting places like quarries and Devenport naval base when a carrier was moored up. That was an eye opener, driving past armed guards on the gate!!
     
  7. Aleks Hayward

    Aleks Hayward 28DL Full Member
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    can you please write all the reports on this site? your story telling is bloody gripping!!
     
    RustyG and Speed like this.
  8. lincstunnelexplorer

    lincstunnelexplorer 28DL Full Member
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    cool story and pics. More bottle than me.... i hate little boats especially when the suns not properly up.
     
  9. Tiffy

    Tiffy 28DL Member
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    Hi everyone, I was an inst. Tech at WPPS from 1974 to 2008. I made a VHS vidio there in 1993 while it was still in use. The boiler cont. Room is in the middle of the boiler house on the second level. I would be happy to help with further info. There is also Weaver power station at the south end of the works which has gas turbines and waste heat boilers originally sultzer machines which drove compressors when it was the basf. Plant. Weaver is still in use now has one john brown machine and a purpose built sultzer machine. One of the original sultzers still remains , GT1 minus its rotor. Cheers Tiffy
     
    Speed likes this.
  10. RustyG

    RustyG The world's most awkward urbexer...
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    You boys have defo got some balls! Excellent pics as well! Top job lads!
     
  11. little_ boy_explores

    little_ boy_explores 28DL Full Member
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    well done nice explore
     
  12. urbanchemist

    urbanchemist 28DL Full Member
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    Only just come across this post - great fun! Was in that area a couple of weeks ago, attempting to walk up the outer bank of the Weaver navigation to get access to a little black church a bit further north (Christ Church, turned out there was a much easier way).
    Have often thought a kayak/canoe would be fun for doing a bit of exploring in docks and canals - never got round to getting one though.
     
  13. albino-jay

    albino-jay 28DL Regular User
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    Keep coming back to this. It's bloody awesome!!
     
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