Demolition begins at Ferrybridge power station as first cooling tower brought down

Demolition work has begun at a record-breaking power station that provided the UK with energy for 50 years.

Thousands of people gathered in fields and on roadsides to watch as a controlled explosion brought down a cooling tower at Ferrybridge Power Station, in West Yorkshire, on Sunday morning.

The demolition came after its owners, energy company SSE, made the decision to close the coal-fired power station, which generated its final electricity in March 2016.

The eight huge cooling towers that form Ferrybridge C are a landmark for drivers using the A1(M) and M62 motorways - both of which had traffic restrictions in place on Sunday for the demolition work.

Spectators gasped as a controlled explosion was carried out on the 114-metre-high Tower Six, which collapsed in seconds in a cloud of dust.

The tower is the first of five to be demolished as SSE prepares to use the site to develop a new gas-fired power station.

Four more towers are expected to be demolished in October.

Ferrybridge C opened in 1966 and became the first power station in Europe to succeed in generating electricity from a 500-megawatt machine.

The station made the record books again in 1973 when one of the generators set a world record by running non-stop for 5,448 hours, generating 2,999 gigawatt hours.

The Ferrybridge power station greeted thousands of drivers on the A1(M). Credit: PA

Charlie Cryans, director of construction for SSE, said: "The Ferrybridge C coal station played a key part in delivering the energy needed to support supply for the UK for over 50 years.

"It is an iconic site for the area and one which many local people are connected to."

The demolition work at Ferrybridge began the day before SSE will open the world's fourth-largest offshore wind farm in the Moray Firth, in Scotland.

The Beatrice Offshore Wind Farm, which is situated 13km off the Caithness coast, is due to be officially opened by the Prince of Wales on Monday.

Martin Pibworth, energy director with SSE, said: "At its peak, Ferrybridge Power Station was capable of providing energy for nearly two million people.

"Now, offshore wind projects like Beatrice will deliver the clean, large-scale, reliable power the UK needs."