Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Ironbridge Power Station

Okay, this might sound hard to believe, but I was minding my own business down in Ironbridge. And suddenly this decommissioned power plant just jumped on me! Feeling my personal space trespassed on, I sought only to escape its invasive hold on me by scurrying around it like a labrat in a maze in search of an exit, and coincidentally happened to have my camera on me for some reason.


Now for some backstory- I freakin' love Ironbridge! I was actually there to check out another nearby spot that will have to wait for a future blog post now, because I spent far too much time simply wandering around Ironbridge aimlessly, enjoying all the little stairways and passageways and bits of ruin popping out at random places. And some not-so-random places.
Ironbridge takes its name from *gasp* an iron bridge, around which the town is built. The town slightly inaccurately describes itself as the birthplace of the industrial revolution. The industrial revolution actually started in many places, but Ironbridge is where the technique of smelting iron with coke (the fuel not the drink) was perfected, which led to the cheaper production of iron. The iron bridge itself was the first of its kind, made from cast iron, having been built in 1779 and opened on New Years Day in 1781. Since so few bridges of this kind survive to the present day, it is rather symbolic of the start of the industrial revolution.

Of course there's more to it. Thats the abridged version, if you'll pardon the pun.

Since then, Ironbridge has become a major tourist attraction in Shropshire. In 2003 the Queen even visited and took a stroll along the bridge.

The Ironbridge power station that I'm focusing on today is pretty much unmissable. The four gigantic cooling towers provided a hilariously unwhimsical backdrop to the local park. Ironbridge had an older power station, but this one was proposed after World War II when the demand for electricity increased. This power station was designated "Iron Bridge B" and began construction in 1963, finally opening in June 1969.

During construction, the aim was to make the power station as little of an eyesore as possible. As such, the cooling towers were constructed with a red pigment added to the concrete to make it the same colour as the local soil. For this quality, the power station is actually unique in Britain. The chimney of the plant itself is the fifth tallest chimney in Britain, and the tallest structure in Shropshire.

 The site was decomissioned in November 2015, making it perhaps the most recent abandoned site I've explored so far. Most of the places I go to have been abandoned longer than I've been alive. The dust here hasn't even settled yet.

 Taking a look around, I actually didn't get much in the way of interior shots. The place was huge, and dotted with CCTV cameras, and security guards. Nevertheless it was photogenic. I proceeded with caution.

Please keep in mind, I don't force entry, I do not disclose means of entry, I don't vandalise, steal, or run with scissors. These things are silly. Trespass without force is a civil offence, not a criminal one, and strolling around this place without a forced entry is therefore no different from strolling down a street, until asked to leave by someone with sufficient authority. And then it is only a criminal offence if one refuses. Also what I do is dangerous and is not recommended. I'm very professional and have been doing this for years.
Click a picture to see it big.

I promise I did not cross these fences that forbid me access via sign. I walked right on past. See? I'm totally well behaved.

Ah now what's this?

No access if the beacons are flashing, hmm?

Well, assuming this is what the sign was referring to, it doesn't look like it's flashing to me. Let's go!

As you can see, the path beyond the sign took me right over to the cooling towers. Now, I've never been this close to cooling towers before, nor have I ever researched anything regarding their functionality, until I got home from this adventure and did some research. See, being an explorer is educational. I had no idea that they sat above pools of water on lots of stilts, but now I do. 

There was a canal system in place, with four little canals leading to each individual cooling tower, and each one had a lifebuoy, should anyone fall in.

And of course there were stairs and ladders around all the machinery around the canals and the cooling towers.

Now this is interesting. Each cooling tower had a series of steps that led up to a small door on the side. Up until I saw this I also had no idea that cooling towers were accessible to humans.

At the base of these stairs there was additional machinery, like this collossal pipe. Predictably, they were numbered 1-4 in relation to the cooling towers that they joined up to.

 I don't know what this big grey tap does but it has warning labels in French and German.

 I stopped for some photos on the way up the cooling towers. It was risky- I was exposed to any security who happened to be strolling by. But think about it. If I am spotted dashing up these stairs, trying not to be seen, then that will look suspicious, whereas if I look completely innocent, people will either assume I'm friendly and as a result not be too hostile, or just assume that I'm meant to be there. Plus it made for some good photographs.

 At the top there was this door, decorated in warning signs. It was also shaped like a coffin. I found it irresistable.

I was expecting this to perhaps lead to a small maintenance room or office, or something. Surely the inside of a giant cooling tower which regularly belched smoke couldn't be wide open to be strolled around, right???


 These cooling towers were amazing to be inside! Had they been functioning, I'd be a little concerned for my life, but as it was, I could wander from one end of the vast expanse to the other. And as I walked, my footsteps and the clicking of the camera made a collossal echo around the vast tube.

To put the size into perspective, the above photo is looking back at the door from the opposite side of the cooling tower.

These trap doors led to lower levels but all the ladders had been removed. 

A spider had made its home in the doorway. A friendly reminder that when humans leave a place, nature moves in. This is a taste of things to come. In the coming months this place is due a very photogenic nature invasion.

The four cooling towers were presumably identical- one was still padlocked. The ones I did get into were identical, so there's not really much point in posting all the pictures.
Several hours of exploring later I was captured by security, and eventually escorted out.

And I've barely scratched the surface really, haven't I? This is a new explorable site. I am among the first to check it out. The following months and years will change this place significantly. Just look at Camelot, and the Latvian Consulate up in Lancashire. Just look at Calcott Hall and Vanity House here in Shropshire. Even the car in RAF Tilstock. How awesome would it have been to see those places in the months following their initial abandonment? So really I think I'm privaleged to see Ironbridge Power Station before all the graffiti, vandalism and natures takeover get here, even if I didn't get the full haul. I'll be back...

Meantime my views are still on the rise due to my coverage by the media, and I'm very grateful for all the positivity that the inaccurately titled blog "Shrewsbury From Where You Are Not" has been receiving. As I said last time, I feel that a healthy way of using this current attention is by pointing at other talented and creative individuals. In life, creative people are often introverted and often misunderstood and alone. Sometimes it can be hard to truly embrace our weirdness when it is far easier to conform and bury the very thing that makes us interesting and unique. And this is why I will always love, compliment and promote creative people. In spite of how it seems sometimes, we are not alone. We have each other by the billions if we care to look and support each other. So please check out the following Facebook pages from my friends from beyond Shropshire- Tarryn Rose Visuals, who works out of the London area, Zena Jones Artwork, who works out of Runcorn / Liverpool, and Charlie Cassells who sings from Hell Hull.
And of course if you liked this blog post then please share it, and follow me on Instagram and Twitter. And if you really want, and can spare the pennies, donate to the adventure fund at the top of this page. One final, oddly bizarre thing to say concerning my recent media attention. Anybody you see online claiming to be my mother... that's not my mother. Not sure whats going on there...

Thank you for reading!

Stay awesome!


  1. You must be glowing right now matey! How long do those things stay well you know unsafe. Or are they not holding any radtioactivity. Amazing images.

    1. They weren't radioactive, Ironbridge was coal powered at first and more recently biomass (whatever that is??) So not unsafe at all from that perspective.

    2. Biomass:
      It basically means stuff that is or was recently alive. In this case I assume wood or some sort of plant matter.

  2. Love this! And love you what you do. Will definitely keep track on what your up to next.
    Heres some of the powerstation in my music video. just not as up close and personal.

  3. Love this! And love you what you do. Will definitely keep track on what your up to next.
    Heres some of the powerstation in my music video. just not as up close and personal.

  4. I remember going on a tour when I was a kid. They used to do open days and the first day was reserved for families of employees (my grandad worked there). The cooling towers are enormous, you really don't get an appreciation of how big they are until you're standing on that latticework looking down at the water or looking up at the small disc of sky. Just one correction though: the cooling towers belched out steam, not smoke. The steam was produced from cooling down the hot water from the turbines using the cold water from the River Severn.

  5. worked there as a maintainance fitter and started in the old a station.then worked on b station until accident in 1987.when you stood inside the cooling towers you should have tested the accoustics.would love to hear a choir in there.many happy days there.

  6. Great images, I can see the cooling towers froM where I live, and have been inside one maybe 30 years ago, they are properly 'awesome'

  7. Love the cooling tower interiors and the pillars in water. Good work all of it.

  8. Just saved all your images because I bet your bottom dollar and for security reasons to authorities take them down off your blog my friend. I have similar images from a couple of RAF bases where I strolled about willy nilly. On one of them I came across the new RAF Taranis drone which I took close up images off. Not a sole in site and I simply walked off site back through the woods I entered via. If you put your mind to it you can get in most places...
    Darren P

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    Simply open an account on Mgcash and use their content locking plug-in.

  10. No turbine hall..No real point !