Blyth Power Station

Blyth Power Station

Infobox UK power station

static_image_caption=Blyth A and B Power Stations. Viewed from across the Blyth estuary on 11 June 2000. Blyth A is on the right and Blyth B is on the left.
region=North East England
operator=Central Electricity Generating Board ("1957-1990") National Power ("1990-2002")
fuel_capacity=1180MW (A & B total)

Blyth Power Station refers to a pair of now demolished coal-fired power stations, which were located at Cambois in Northumberland, on the northern bank of the River Blyth, between its tidal estuary and the North Sea. The site comprised two stations, built alongside each other. Blyth A Power Station had a smaller generating capacity, and was built four years before Blyth B Power Station. Together, they had a generating capacity of 1180 megawatts (MW). This combined capacity made it the largest electricity generation site in England until Ferrybridge 'C' power station came into full operation in 1966. [cite web
title = Former Blyth A & B Power stations
work = Chris Bell
publisher = Geograph
url =
accessdate = 2008-10-07

The power stations' chimneys were a strong landmark on the Northumberland skyline for more than 40 years; the 'A' station's chimneys stood at convert|450|ft|abbr=on and the 'B' station's chimneys stood at convert|550|ft|abbr=on.

In 1989, Blyth A won a place in the Guinness Book of Records by setting the world record for total total running hours in a plant of its size, when all four generating units achieved 200,000 running hours. In 1991 the site was used as a shooting location for the sci-fi horror film Alien 3.cite web
title = Structure details
work = SINE Project (Structural Images of the North East)
publisher = Newcastle University
url =
accessdate = 2008-06-09



In the post war period there was an increasing demand for electricity. This led to realatively small stations being built at Stella and Dunston to meet demand quickly. However, at Blyth, a larger, more efficient plant was planned, consisting of six 100 MW generating units. This then increased to six 120 MW units, before increasing again and settling upon an A station consisting of four 120 MW units and a B station consisting of two 275 MW units and two 350 MW units.


Permission for Blyth A to be built was given in February 1955, and construction took place between 1955 and 1958. Its first units were put into operation later in 1958. All units were in operation by June 1960. Blyth A was the first power station in Britain to be fitted with the then new standard 120 MW sets. Blyth B was constructed between 4 December 1961 and 9 September 1962, and opened later that year, becoming the first power station in Britain to have new 275 MW sets installed. Both of the stations were designed by L J Couves & Partners, engineered by Merz & McLellan and built by the Cleveland Bridge Company. [cite web
title = A - Z list of Bridges Built by Cleveland Bridge Company
work = Newcastle University
publisher =
url =
accessdate = 2008-08-11



Buildings on the power station site included: boiler houses, chimneys, coal handling plant, coal stores, a flue gas cleaning plant, power halls and switch houses. The large 241 acre site was separated by Bedlington-Cambois Road, with the main station buildings to the south of the road and coal sorting and railway sidings to the north.

The ground that the power stations' main buildings were built upon consister of a convert|70|ft|abbr=on thick layer of boulder clay, overlying sandstone and coal. The main foundations of the buildings are spread out, giving a load of about convert|2.3|t|lk=on|sigfig=4 per square foot.

Blyth A's turbine hall was convert|394|ft|abbr=on long by convert|122|ft|abbr=on wide, and convert|85|ft|abbr=on high. It was built from a reinforced concrete frame, clad with brickwork. The boiler house was convert|362|ft|abbr=on long by convert|93|ft|abbr=on wide and convert|157|ft|abbr=on high. It was built from a steel frame with aluminium cladding.

Blyth B's turbine hall was convert|675|ft|abbr=on long by convert|166|ft|abbr=on wide and convert|100|ft|abbr=on high. The boiler house was convert|675|ft|abbr=on long by convert|105|ft|abbr=on wide and convert|107|ft|abbr=on high. Both the turbine hall and boiler house were built from a steel frame, clad with aluminium and glazing. The roofs were made from a lightweight aluminium decking. The volume of Blyth B's main buildings represent 27 ft³/kW of installed capacity and Blyth A's building volume represents 26.3 ft³/kW.

Blyth A's chimneys stood at convert|450|ft|abbr=on and Blyth B's chimneys stood at convert|550|ft|abbr=on and were a strong landmark on the South East Northumberland skyline.


The stations used to consume a total of convert|51000|t|lk=on|sigfig=4 of coal per week and convert|70000|t|sigfig=4 per week during the winter. The station did this using a conveyor system that was integrated to feed both stations as necessary. The coal was delivered to the stations using rail transport. The station was fitted with a Merry go Round coal delivery system in 1981, after high capacity rapid discharge waggons became the standard of British Rail. Because of site space restrictions, a balloon loop system could not be installed, meaning that instead of the continuous movement of a trains, a train used to arrive on site and pull onto a reception track. The locomotive would then uncouple and recouple at the opposite end, before slowly moving over the unloading track hopper and discharging the coal and eventually leaving site.

Cooling system

Water used in the station was extracted from the Blyth Harbour tidal basin. A condenser was used to convert steam from the turbine back into water. The condensers were of twin two-pass design and had a total cooling surface of 70,000 ft². Condensed water was then extracted by two duty pumps. The water then passed through a drains cooler. Waste water was discharged into the sea off Cambois beach below low tide level.cite web
title = About Blyth Power Station
work = About Blyth
url =
accessdate = 2008-06-09

Closure and demolition

The two 275 MW units at Blyth B (units 5 & 6) were decommissioned in 1991, on the grounds of economy. The complete closure of the power station wasn't announced until May 2000. Howevere, both of the stations were not closed until January 2002 because the then owners National Power could not find a buyer for the power station. This meant the loss of 131 jobs. [cite web
title = National Power
work = UK Business Park
date = 2000-06-01
url =
accessdate = 2008-06-09
quote = National Power is to close the coal-fired Blyth Power Station with the loss of 131 jobs, having failed to find a buyer.
] At the time of its decommissioning, Blyth Power Station was the oldest coal-fired power station in Britain.

The stations were demolished between 2002 and 2004. The smaller buildings and structures were first to go and were all removed by July 2002. The larger buildings followed by July 2003. Finally, at Noon on 7 December 2003, the only remaining part of Blyth Power Stations, the four chimneys, were demolished.

Future use of the site

In May 2007, a proposed plan to build a new £2 billion clean coal power station on the currently empty site was announced. RWE Npower have outlined proposals for three 800MW (2400MW total), high efficiency, coal fired units. If Npower succeed in their plans, work would begin in 2010 and the station would be finished by 2014. However, Blyth Valley Council has said the proposal does not fit with regeneration plans in the area. [cite news
title = Power for the people
work = Evening Chronicle
publisher = Trinity Mirror
date = 2007-05-11
url =
accessdate = 2008-06-09
quote = Energy supplier RWE npower revealed the proposals for the environmentally friendly plant in Blyth, Northumberland, which, if it went ahead, could see millions of tonnes of foreign coal shipped into the port town. It is estimated around 1,500 construction jobs would be created up to the plant's completion in 2014 on the site of the old Blyth Power Station knocked down in 2003. Then more than 200 full-time staff would be needed for its day-to-day running.
] [cite news
title = Firm plans new coal power station
work = BBC News
publisher =
date = 2007-05-11
url =
accessdate = 2008-06-09
quote = RWE Npower is proposing a £2bn plant on the site of the former Blyth Power Station - which was demolished four years ago. The firm, which has submitted limited plans to the government, says the new station would be cleaner and could create more than 150 jobs. However, Blyth Valley Council has said the proposal does not fit with regeneration plans in the area.
] Many residents living in the area feel that the land should be redeveloped for other purposes, rather than continue to be used as an industrial site.Weasel-inline The MP for Wansbeck, Denis Murphy, stated that, although the project would have benefits for the area, he still had concerns.cite web
title=MP's concern at proposals for new power plant
] Ronnie Campbell, the MP for Blyth Valley, claimed he would welcome the development as long as it did not have an adverse effect on the overall regeneration of the area. [cite news
title = Power for the people
work = Evening Chronicle
publisher = Trinity Mirror
date = 2007-05-11
url =
accessdate = 2008-06-09
] On 5 June 2008 npower reopened the gatehouse at the entrance to the power station's site as a 'drop in' centre for the public to find out more about the proposed plans. [cite news
title = RWE npower opens the doors of the Blyth Power Station Gatehouse as drop in information centre
work = RWE npower
publisher =
date = 2008-06-5
url =
accessdate = 2008-06-20

External links

* [ BBC photo gallery of chimney demolition.]
* [ Photos of chimney demolition from Newbiggin-by-the-Sea.]
* [ Video of the chimney demolition]
* [ Video of chimney demolition]
* [ Video with two different views of chimney demolition]
* [ Monthly mean sea temperature at Blyth Power Station]
* [ npower UK]


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