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Willington (PowerStation) Cooling Towers, July 2020


Surprisingly Unsurprising
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May 21, 2019
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Willington B Power

The remaining cooling towers of the former Willington power station are a well known UK exploration and photography location which has taken me a good few years to get done, because I'm a lazy shit. Known more commonly as the "Five Sisters" the landmark can be traced back to 1959 and even further back to 1954.

Willington A was the first of two power stations to be built in the small town of Willington roughly a fifteen minuet drive from the center of Derby. The original station produced power using four 100 Megawatt units built by internal combustion limited opening in 1957 after three years construction. Burning around 1,000 tonnes of coal at full load per unit (4,000 tonnes overall) within a day.

Shortly after this the construction of Willington B was under way in 1959 later being completed in 1962 with a pair of Babcock and Wilcox Boilers powering an A.E.I generator set (turbine) each. This station as a whole could consume the same 4,000 tonnes of coal as the A station. The completion of this station added the final three cooling towers to the site, set at a right angle to the original two for the A station giving the site its most distinct feature.


A pair of class 20 "Choppers" on an MGR train seen leaving with the B station in the background. (

The death of the power stations began in 1989 with the privatisation of many public sectors such as British Rail and British Gas. Among this willington power station was now in the ownership of National Power PLC under this the first of the units of Willington A were to be shut down. Unit 3 was de-synchronized in Jan 1993 and later unit 4 would follow in the coming months. The remaining units (1&2) of Willington A would run until 1995 when they were ceremoniously decommissioned taking Willington A off the grid.
Meanwhile Willington B was still going strong with the plan to run the plant until it cost to much to repair and run any longer. It was clear around 1997 that the time was almost up for Willington B as Unit 5 was due for a major overhall in 1998 and 6 in 1999 which would be a huge financial hit to National Power from an aging power station. The time came in 1998 when Unit 5 was decommissioned on the 31st of March leaving Unit 6 to struggle on another 365 days until closure. Marking the end of Willington powerstation.

Main History Sources:

The boiler houses, turbine halls, control rooms and other areas have all since gone but the 5 cooling towers remain to this day.
Current plans for housing have been battled against by residents and the site is now currently owned by the Australian owned firm Calon Energy who plan to build a gas powered plant on the site once a contract to supply energy has been awarded. There is still debate on weather this will happen and most locals will be devastated to see these icons of the landscape simply vanish.

Anyway, this is a short report and there aren't many photos because of that.