Rugley Power Station

“The Rugeley power stations were a series of two coal-fired power stations located on the River Trent at Rugeley in Staffordshire. The first power station on the site, Rugeley A power station was opened in 1961, but has since been closed and demolished. Rugeley B power station was commissioned in 1970 and closed on 8 June 2016. It had an output of 1,000 megawatts (MW) and had a 400 kilovolt (kV) connection to the national grid. The B station provided enough electricity to power roughly half a million homes.

Construction of the A station started in 1956. The station’s generating sets were commissioned between 1961 and 1962. The station was the first joint venture between the Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB) and the National Coal Board (NCB). The station took coal directly from the neighbouring Lea Hall Colliery by conveyor belt. This was the first such arrangement in Britain. The colliery was put into production some 6 months before the first generating unit was commissioned in the power station. The station was officially opened on 1 October 1963 by Lord Robens of Woldingham and Sir Christopher Hinton.

The first of the five cooling towers to be completed at Rugeley in 1960 was the world’s first large dry cooling tower, and the first large scale experiment with a design aimed at eliminating water loss. The dry tower was commissioned in 1962 but its capital and operating costs were considerably higher than a conventional wet tower. No further dry towers were constructed in the UK. On occasions this tower was used by the RAF for parachute development. Rugeley A was also the first power station in Britain to be controlled entirely from a central control room. The total cost of building it was £30 million.

Construction of Rugeley B power station began in 1965, with completion of the station in 1972. The architects were L.K. Watson and H. J. Coates. The architects coloured two of the four cooling towers a pinkish red colour to heighten what they saw as the femininity of the hyperbolic form. With both stations in operation, 850 people were employed at the stations in 1983.

The two stations were initially operated by the Central Electricity Generating Board, but following privatisation in 1990, were handed over to National Power. The Lea Hall colliery was closed on 24 January 1991, meaning all coal burned in the stations needed to be delivered by rail. Rugeley B was supplied with fuel via branch off the adjacent Cannock and Rugeley railway line, near to its connection with the West Coast Main Line. Rail facilities included a west-facing junction on the Rugeley line, A and B sidings, gross-weight and tare-weight weighbridges, a hopper house, an oil siding, a hopper bypass line and a run-round loop. A couple of years later the closure of the A station began. Two of the station’s generating units were decommissioned in 1994, with the other three following in 1995. Having burned nearly 42 million tonnes of coal in its lifetime, the station was demolished later in 1995.”


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