Willington Power Station – Derbyshire

Willington power station was built in the 1950’s next to the river Trent and close to the Nottinghamshire/Derbyshire coalfields, at the time thought in-exhaustible. Initial plans were to have two cooling towers and four generators – “Willington A”. During construction, “Willington B” was commissioned, with three more cooling towers and two generators.

Privatisation ensued, and National Power eventually decommissioned the station – A closing in 1995, and B following in 1999.

That’s a very concise history – more detailed information can be found on the excellent Brief History of Willington Power Station website.

Not a lot remains at Willington power station today – just five cooling towers.

Cooling towers

These are 300ft high and have a 218ft diameter at the base (compared to 340/260 at Thorpe Marsh).

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Unlike Thorpe Marsh, there are still structures inside all of the cooling towers. And they’ve got water in. The structures inside meant you couldn’t really look up and appreciate the scale of them.

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There wasn’t much laying around. Some old signs. Remnants of the railway system. Rubble.

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34 Responses to Willington Power Station – Derbyshire

  1. Grez says:

    I know of only 1 powerstation in the notts area and im sure that still works, which end of the county is this 🙂

  2. Moggy says:

    Willington Power Station is approx. 6 miles (10 km) south of Derby. Just off the A38 / A50 (Toyota) Junction.
    The place is actually in the parish of the village of Findern.

  3. ant says:

    1 or 2 members of my family worked there over the years my uncle was there forever

  4. Sean says:

    I noticed yesterday that some, if not all of the towers have been mothballed, so some or all may now be completely empty of their interior structures and workings 😦

  5. luke shreeve says:

    hey, i am researching this location for my uni art project. Am structure mad, love the website, kind of helped triggered the projects starting point. what does mothballed mean btw? am not familiar with this phrase… is it easy to get into the grounds for a look around?

  6. david stuart kininmonth says:

    My father, David Jack Kininmonth, was promoted to charge engineer at Willington, moving to Sizewell A around 1962 when I was 9. He died in Nov. ’92.I remember some names from the time, Frank Waring, Howard Dent (narrowboat enthusiast?) Jack Panter.My elder sister Sheila & I spent many happy hours playing around the base of the cooling towers, happy days.

  7. Ivan Wilkinson says:

    I worked there as an apprentice (green fly we were called on account of our green overalls) from 1963 through to 1970. I was mainly in the Instrument department. Unfortunately, I cannot remember any names from that time. Do remember having a lot of fun there which , today would make Health and Safety’ hair curl!

  8. Adrian Panter says:

    My father is Jack Panter. He passed away on the 19th of February. He had a narrow boat aswell (well half of one anyway). From Willington he moved to Ironbridge as Charge Engineer. He used to talk about Dave Kinimonth. At Ironbridge he worked with Graeme Parton, Graeme Peers and others. I have just found the full operating manual to Willington power station from 1960. Feel free to contact me anytime.

  9. david stuart kininmonth says:

    Hello Adrian, to my shame I don’t remember you, but I can remember Jack & my dad taking us & your sister Valerie to Queen St. baths in Derby & then on to the Navigation Arms (Shardlow?) in your dad’s old citroen. I guess you must be younger & hence missed out on the pub bit! Sorry to hear he’s no longer about, but he did well (mid 80’s?)

  10. Adrian says:

    Hi David, He would have been 82 on the 10th of February. I am 45. Dad used to have a Citroen Big 8. I remember it was a bugger to get down the drive at Muxton due to its size. He had a succesion of Citroens after that (so did I). Nice to hear from you. Adrian.

  11. i am a sort of artist and am working on two pieces based on cooling towers and also one on moortown watertower in leeds. thank you whoever put such great photos up if you are interesyted in my work, check out my site, quarry hill flats may interest you

  12. John o'Willestune says:

    Some update from Willington.

    You may have heard RweNpower plans to build a gas powered station on the site, having twice been defeated at Public Inquiry in its proposal for 1000 houses on the site. Among other changes this calls for the demolition of the five cooling towers which have recently been gutted.

    Moggy is wrong – the whole site is now in Willington. I know – I got the County Council to change the parish bounds in 1979, which extended Willington parish to the east as far as Frizam’s Lane, and to the north as far as Buckford Lane, carefully skirting Findern CP School, to leave it in Findern.

    Adrian, I’m interested you have the operating manual – does it say anything about flood risk and ways of managing the effect of a major flood threat to the site by the Trent? The sump (photo RHS, above)
    was part of a complex drainage system for surface water, and seepage in the massive subterranean concrete foundations to the boilers and generator houses. These foundations remain, buried.

    Luke – are you aware the reason for building the Willington Power Stations (A and B) was to provide power for the south-east of England (Essex) via the National Grid? It says so in the “Willington
    ‘A’ Generating Station Station Public Local Inquiry 27th -28th May 1953 Minutes of Proceedings.” I think there’s a copy at Kew.

  13. John Wood says:

    Looks a lot different to when I last visited .
    it was still operational then.
    My Grandad worked there on Engineering his name was Bernard Brown he is sadly no longer with us but I will always remember my trip around Willington A & B with him.

  14. outstanding stuff. I’ve done a bit on cooling towers for my artwork and also Moortown water tower in Leeds, also the last gas silos in Bath. My blog is Skrreworld and I feel a common thread

  15. PHIL DUNN says:

    my father worked at this statoin in the 50s and 60s Mr John Dunn,he visited his uncle john brown who has now passed away,mr brown has a son in the area anyone know of this name.

  16. Laurence Blundell says:

    Great pics.I worked at Willington from 1976-95,and I recognise a few names from above.The two stations were unusual as a lot of the boiler plant was outdoors,nice in summer,but not so good in winter.Some names I do recall-Reg England,Brian Jackson,Brian Glover,Bill Britland,Brian Riley.The manager at one time was John Reid.

  17. Alan Hurren says:

    Now nearing 87, I was Senior Project Engineer with English Electric working in conjunction with CEGB on
    R&D for special design of high speed (10,000 rpm) cardan shaft and membrane type flexible couplings.
    R&D testing at D.Napier & Son Ltd, Acton, London

    This was for hydrogen cooling of the Alternator via drive connection from Exciter to the circulator fitted in the alternator casing. The drive system had to accommodate up to +/- 1/8″ misalignment in all three planes. No mean feat of endurance under continuity of exacting conditions.

    Fretting corrosion of the 20gauge stainless steel membranes each end on the 10″ dia flexible couplings was an inital problem but finally solved by alternate coating with PTFE – known of course today by housewives as TEFLON – and still a very closely controlled process.

    I was privileged to witness overspeed tests on initial turbine set. Very awe inspiring and excitingly successful proof test – noted I would add, from my position of comparative safety well back from turbine end – and looking at the rev counter exceeding revs
    beyond 3000 to when steam cut-off to turbine finally occured ! A veryanxious few moments however !

    A couple of days overdue on ‘outing time’ to first getting power ‘on line’ but a most satisfying experience on real engineering – and meeting with other two members of power consortia. Babcock & Wilcox + Taylor Woodrow. Times to ever remember. Sadly all my ex-colleagues are now deceased.

  18. dion says:

    Just wondering if it’s possible to enter the Willington site to take some black and white pictures for my dereliction high school project. If anyone can help me please email diondestelle@gmail.com

  19. DAB @ derelicte says:

    Hi Dion – sadly it’s only possible to enter the site to take colour photos and HDR.

  20. Patrick says:

    I’ve been wanting to enter this site for a good few months for a film project. Does anyone know who owns them or what security firm owns them. Tempting urbex exploration but with a stupidly big camera not always the best way. Loving the pictures

    Cheers Patrick

  21. Patrick says:

    I’ve been wanting to enter this site for a good few months for a film project. Does anyone know who owns them or what security firm owns them. Tempting urbex exploration but with a stupidly big camera not always the best way. Loving the pictures

    Cheers Patrick

  22. julie bolton says:

    My dad, John Bolton, was involved in the design of Willington power Station. I always think of him when I see the towers. I lived in Heath Lane, Findern, which is very near the site.My Dad worked at NEI international Combustion from 1940’s to 1980’s- does anyone remember him visiting Willington Power Station?

  23. julie bolton says:

    I am concerned about the area surrounding the power station at Willington. There are Peregrin Falcons nesting in the towers, buzzards and hare and other wildlife live in the fields around them. If the towers are demolished, and another power station built, these delicate species will be wiped out from the area…..

  24. heather says:

    hi, my dad john vine worked at willington as a rigger for years after leaving spondon station. the hard work took its toll and he died recently. asbestos!
    he did enjoy his time there though and met some great people.

  25. Glen Thomas says:

    Does anyone know how I can get permission to take photos using the powerstation as a backdrop? Why is there a restriction on the types of photos that one can take.?
    Many thanks.

  26. Jan Stepien says:

    I used to work at Willington as secretary from 1982 for John Reid and then moved to Rugeley, Ironbridge, Swindon, Ipswich and Drakelow. It was lovely coming across this web site, especially as I have just tonight passed the “gentle giants” (cooling towers) for a meal at the Crewe & Harper. But I was terribly upset to read that John Vine had passed away. He was a great chap. Condolences and Best Wishes to his family. Jan x

  27. Fran Kemmish says:

    My father took me to see the area around Willington Power Station in 1969, on the way back from a trip to Birmingham. We stopped there because he used to work on the farm that preceded the power station. That would have been in the early 1930s. I think he only worked there for a couple of years, before trying his luck elsewhere in the country, and eventually joining the army.

  28. mick Pugh says:

    Hi all i live in Stoke-on-Trent and i can see 5 chimneys on the horizon as i look east i wondered if willington power station was them. I would love to have a drive out there and take some pictures and how to get there.

  29. Elizabeth Housham says:

    Hi, I have just seen this site, thought It may interest someone to know, that my Stepfather James Gilmour originally from Glasgow, was one of the steeplejacks on the chimneys at Willington.
    If my memory serves me right, we moved down to Willingham in 1962. We used to live on a caravan site, across the road from the entrance. We could watch my stepfather daily waving to us from the top of the chimney.
    I went to Willington primary school and I can remember a lovely lady who was a dinner lady there, she lived in Findern Rd or Lane ( can’t remember which )
    We had a great time there and as the chineys were finished, we moved on to other power stations ending up in Gainsborough. The power station nearest to us is West Burton. I can now see that from my bedroom window.

    My stepfather also worked at High Marnham and Drakelow.
    Just thought I would share this as it’s all part of my history. I am a 59 year old mum and granny now but these sites ae of interest to my grandkids.

  30. Gilly Jones says:

    I was very interested to read the comments on this site. I am a solicitor acting for the family of a man who recently died of an asbestos related cancer. He worked at D Napier & Son and later at GEC. His family have given me some names including John Reid, so I imagine some of you worked there at the same time as my clients deceased father. I am trying to find anyone who might be able to tell me about working conditions at D Napier & Son from around 1954 to 1960, and GEC/English Electric from 1960 – 1980. I would be grateful if anyone who has any information could contact me at gjones@boyesturner.com or on 0118 9527199.
    Many thanks

  31. Jacki Johnston says:

    My father worked on the construction of the power station and I would be interested to know the name of the local paper at the time as his picture was in it and he would love to get a copy. It would have been about 1956-58.

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