Hundreds watch Cockenzie power station’s last hurrah

All downhill from here. Picture: Ian Georgeson
All downhill from here. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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THE last remaining section of Cockenzie Power Station has been demolished by controlled explosions.

The boiler house was reduced to rubble in dramatic fashion yesterday, marking the end of an era for one of the Lothians’ best known landmarks.

BOOM! Picture: Ian Georgeson

BOOM! Picture: Ian Georgeson

Hundreds of residents gathered to watch the momentous occasion, which followed the destruction of the station’s two 500ft tall chimneys in September.

Parts of Edinburgh Road and the John Muir Way, near to the power station, were closed before the demolition.

And a section of the Greenhills was opened to the public as a viewing area.

One resident, who didn’t wish to be named, said he was sad to see the building come down.

Dust to dust. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Dust to dust. Picture: Ian Georgeson

He said: “I’ll miss having the view of the power station as you always knew you were home. It’s been a big part of the town but I guess the time is right for it to be demolished.”

Yesterday’s levelling of the site came as the last phase in the two-year process of decommissioning the East Lothian plant.

ScottishPower project manager George Camps said a lot of work had gone into preparing for the occasion.

Before the button was pressed, he said: “Careful planning has ensured that the demolition work so far has been very successful, and we fully intend to carry out this final blowdown in the same manner.

Hundreds gather to watch the demolition. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Hundreds gather to watch the demolition. Picture: Ian Georgeson

“This will be the last of the main structures to be removed at Cockenzie, and we would like to thank the local residents and community groups for their patience and co-operation as work has progressed.”

Thousands turned out to see the giant chimneys topple into each other and crumble to the ground in September.

The facility opened in 1967 and it was at that time the largest power station in Scotland.

The plant, which ScottishPower said generated 150 terawatt hours of electricity during its use, was decommissioned in March 2013.

Mr Camps added: “The project will continue at Cockenzie for at least the next six months, as we clear the materials from the site and remove the old office and other ancillary buildings.

“We will ensure that local communities are kept fully up-to-date.”

The towers became favourites to people in the Lothians after dominating the coastal skyline for almost 50 years.

But sentimentality could not save the chimneys.

Historic Scotland didn’t raise any concern about the heritage value of the site, which was number 45 in Prospect’s top 100 best modern Scottish buildings.

A lack of opposition allowed Scottish Natural Heritage to recommend removal.

Across the Irish Sea, Dublin is home to similar chimneys and a partially closed power station – but these towers have not been destroyed.

Instead, Poolbeg Power Station in Ringsend, south Dublin, has now been added to protected structures.

SEE ALSO: Evening News reader captures the demolition from another angle