Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Heritage, or an eyesore?

From the East Kent Mercury

These towers, the Richborough cooling towers, have been part of the landscape in east Kent for about 50 years but now they are to be demolished.

They were built in the 1950s and started burning coal for the Kent collieries in 1962.  Nine years later they were converted to burn oil, then later still to the experimental fuel, Orimulsion, derived from bitumen.  Eventually, in 1996, the power station was decommissioned.

There have been arguments that they are part of our industrial heritage, a memorial to those who built it (13 died in the process), and one of the few things left from the east Kent mining heritage.

Probably the main argument for demolition has been that the site can be redeveloped and put to good use.  Most people think they are an eyesore and because the land is so flat they can be seen for miles around.

I've always been quite surprised that nobody has ever shown any concern that they can be seen so clearly from the Roman fort of Richborough, the first Roman settlement in Britain. The surprise is that they were allowed to build them there in the first place but we were no doubt less concerned about heritage then. 

cooling towers seen from Roman fort

On the other hand, English Heritage, the owners of Richborough Castle, made no objection to the demolition plans.

The towers will no longer be a blot on the landscape in a few weeks time.
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  1. From a distance the sheer size of such things are noticeable, however as you go north you can see several such sites from the A1, very impressive unless you belong to 'Greenpeace.' With more around they are not 'special.' The old fort is much more interesting I would say. There again Cowdenbeath was built on coal mines and now there is little evidence it existed so I hope some museum of mining is found in Kent.

  2. I can't quite make my mind up about it. I do think we need to keep some record of our industrial past whether it pleases environmentalists or not, but the only visible sign I've seen in the area is a statue of a miner near Betteshanger, the last mine to close in Kent. Apart from that it seems there is only CHIK, Coalfield heritage Initiative Kent, which is creating an online museum. Maybe that's enough.

    The Roman fort is probably more precious - older and rarer I suppose. I thought I'd done a post about it but it seems not.

  3. I think I would be against demolishing Richborough Castle. I have never heard of cooling towers except for nuclear. I learn so much from you. What is being cooled? Was being cooled?

  4. They had the cooling towers for cooling the water that removed the heat generated at the same time as the power. The same principles as in a nuclear power station. There are, as Adullamite said, a lot of them about in the north especially, but these are the only ones in Kent. There have been pictures in the local paper for weeks. They are now showing artistic ones of "towers in the twilight" and so on.

  5. Funny I have always liked cooling towers, they seem rather magical to me the way they are constantly puffing white smoke. Not much point in them if they are disused, I suppose. But I'd be rather sad to see them go.


Forethoughts, afterthoughts, any thoughts. Tell me.


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