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The Awesome Demolition of Richborough Cooling Towers - A Very Big Bang!

Updated on June 12, 2012

Since the late 50's the cooling towers of Richborough power station have dominated the skyline at Richborough in South East Kent, England. The power station to which they belonged opened in 1962 burning coal. It was converted to burn oil in 1971 and then further converted to burn Orimulsion - an oil and water emulsion, in 1989. The station ceased generating in 1996 after two court cases concerning the environmental impact of burning orimulsion. Since then these chimneys have stood silently, helping planes to navigate to Manston Airport, boats to find their way to the mouth of the river Stour, and being a landmark to signal "home" for countless travellers.

Although considered an eyesore by some, most of the local people, who's skyline has changed forever, were sad to see them demolished. However, getting the chance to watch the explosions that would bring these giants down in less than 30 seconds, was surely a once in a lifetime opportunity, and most definitely the worst kept secret in Kent! With the date and time leaked to a local newspaper, and countless posts on face-book, the crowds that turned up to watch this spectacle were incredible, and begged the question.. "why did they not think about putting a burger van in for the people?", some of whom arrived as early as 5am, to be sure to get the best view. "They're in the dynamite business not the burger business" commented a friend of mine, which explained this oversight in one simple sentence!

No-one seemed at all concerned when this character showed up!
No-one seemed at all concerned when this character showed up!

The date is Sunday 11th March 2012 and the demolition is scheduled for 9am. As the time nears and the roads are finally closed, the crowd gathers expectantly, jostling for position and setting up their camera's, phones and camcorders ready to film this historic event. The mood is jovial, with a collective excitement that is encouraged by the "sentries" who have loud walkie- talkies, giving us a commentary on the proceedings, and letting us know that all 27 checkpoints are "clear".

The crowds hush as a siren goes off, 30 seconds till the warning rocket! It's the longest 30 seconds we've ever experienced, then woosh... the rocket goes off and the countdown over the walkie- talkies begins...

The site has been cleared to make way for a new Green Energy Park, which has sparked much speculation as to what this actually means. The conspiracy theorists suspect a nuclear power plant, but this is extremely unlikely considering the sites close proximity to the town of Sandwich! Others say that it will be an incinerator, burning rubbish transported down from London. A little bit of research has shown this is not too far removed from the truth...

Richborough Energy Park

Richborough energy park is planning to produce a synthetic gas that could replace the use of natural gas by a process called Pyrolysis, where mixed waste (organic and plastics) will be converted into gas. The process does not allow oxygen into the chamber so does not involve combustion.

The energy park will also create electricity by burning wood-chips, this is called biomass combined heat and power and promises to be from sustainable sources. The anaerobic digester will convert green and food waste into methane by breaking it down with bacteria. The methane in turn will be converted into energy. The site will also recycle tyres and plastics, and have a backup generator fired by diesel or gas called a peaking plant.

Badda Boom! Lots of dust...
Badda Boom! Lots of dust...
Chimney saved for last..... still lots of dust...
Chimney saved for last..... still lots of dust...
... and then there was nothing!
... and then there was nothing!


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