Ferrybridge Power Station: The history of Yorkshire’s iconic coal-fired power source which dates back to 1917

Ferrybridge Power Station, officially known as Ferrybridge C, has been a landmark of Ferrybridge and Knottingley for more than 50 years.

Ferrybridge C being demolished in October 2019. (Pic credit: Ian Forsyth / Getty Images)
Ferrybridge C being demolished in October 2019. (Pic credit: Ian Forsyth / Getty Images)

For more than 50 years, the power plant has been a staple of West Yorkshire and during its heyday it employed more than 900 people.

It became an unconventional tourist attraction in the 1980s when it was opened to the public, causing major traffic congestion on the A1.

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The Conservative government announced plans to privatise the electricity industry in 1988 and the station's owner was announced as PowerGen plc.

However, rising costs meant that it had to close down in 2016. The demolition began in 2018 and more demolitions continued a year later which saw thousands of people gathering at the scene to watch it all unfold.

Further demolition of the power plant will be occurring this weekend (Sunday, August 22). Homes will be evacuated, roads will be closed and planes and drones will be prohibited from flying over while the demolition takes place.

It is thought that the exclusion zone implemented by SSE will include homes on Kirkhaw Lane, Stranglands Lane and various other properties within close proximity of the site.

Here is everything you need to know about its history.

Foundation of Ferrybridge

The acreage at Ferrybridge was bought in 1917 by the Yorkshire Electric Power Company and plans for a power station were discussed and submitted a year later.

But due to a system change in 1919, plans for the structure were paused and resubmitted the following year. The construction process for Ferrybridge A power station started in 1926 and it was up and running in 1927. The initial design covered 32 acres of its land.

The building consisted of the boilers, turbines, offices, and a smaller building which accommodated the electrical switchgear. It incorporated transport facilities due to its size which included a short track connected to the Dearne Valley line with the capacity for handling wagons up to 20 tonnes.

The power source equipment consisted of eight 75,000 pound (34,000kg) per hour water boiling capacity water tube boilers structured in pairs. The purpose of the boilers was to produce superheated steam at 371C.

Despite station A being closed in October 1976, due to a change of ownership, Ferrybridge A’s boiler room and turbine hall still remain standing today and are used as offices and workshops.

Introduction of Ferrybridge B and C

In 1955 Ferrybridge B was constructed and it generated electricity using three 100 megawatt (MW) generating sets commissioned between 1957 and 1959.

Initially, the station had a total generating capacity of 300 MW but this dropped down to 285 MW by the 1990s forcing it to close down in 1992 and has since been completely demolished.

Around 11 years after the construction of Ferrybridge B, Ferrybridge C was opened with a generating capacity of two gigawatts by Central Electricity Generating Board.

It was closed down by March 2016.

In July 2019, one of Ferrybridge’s cooling towers was demolished and four more were demolished just three months later, leaving just three of the original eight towers standing three years on after its closure.