Didcot power station has been a feature of Oxfordshire’s landscape for the last forty years, the six distinctive hyperbolic cooling towers standing proud. Whether they were an eyesore or beloved iconic industrial feature has been debated since they were constructed (even inspiring an Ode by poet Kit Wright).
To OCV they are a distinctive (and in my experience much derided landmark – including by me). On task on a cold winter’s day working at Watlington Hill, there they are in the distance white plumes of water vapour stark against a crisp blue sky or on a summer afternoon tracking the red kites soaring over Aston Rowant there they appear in the corner of the eye .
Now this era has come to an end. In the early hours of the 27th July , in less than 30 seconds and using 180kg of explosives the three southern most towers were demolished.
A hardy group of OCV volunteers, joined the vigil through the wee small hours to watch this momentous event (scheduled time between three and five AM). Sat on a grassy knoll, less than a mile away from the demolition site we waited and waited.
Then at four forty five the shrill blast of the 15 minute warning broke the pre-dawn stillness and hushed conversations of onlookers. At 05:01 with a sharp detonation, a rumble and a cloud of dust they fell. Awe-inspiring and beautiful to watch they crumpled to rubble, clouds of dust filling the air where they stood.
So for now they are just three cooling towers, the symmetry of Frederick Gibberd’s layout in ruins. The rest of Didcot A will be demolished in the next few years, no more a way marker on the trek home.