Inside an abandoned coal power plant (photos from Boing Boing Flickr Pool)


When operational, the interior of these tall hollow cooling towers is honeycombed with a network of pipes and a spray system for venting the steam. After condensation, the water was recycled for return to the nearby river or re-used for industrial processes after it had played its part in driving the turbines. The horizontal concrete bars at the top of this shot are known as 'cooling baffles', and there are many thousands of them radiating out from the centre of the structure.


If you'd like to read more detail about this generation of power plants, click here to browse through an interesting little book detailing the construction of one of Thorpe Marsh's contemporaries. It provides an insight into the earliest days of Connah's Quay, a power station in Wales built to similar standards in the early fifties. Unlike this location, Connah's Quay continued to be developed and is now one of the largest combined cycle generators in the UK.

12 Responses to “Inside an abandoned coal power plant (photos from Boing Boing Flickr Pool)”

  1. emo hex says:

    Just think of the possibilities, add blowers in the bottom and you have one hell of a vertical wind tunnel !

  2. brightsider says:

    I grew up in Barnby Dun (the village right next door to this power station) in a shop next to the canal which faced Thorpe Marsh. It was a really important part of village life and many local people were employed there. We didn’t miss the coal lorries which used to thunder through the village when it closed, though, or the noise of the high pressure steam venting! When I was 16 I spent a fortnight doing work experience in the chemistry lab. I was able to roam the whole site in a little buggy (including the nature reserve which was part of the site) and I even got to stick my head inside one of the two boilers which was being refitted at the time. It’s been really interesting to see what’s left of the site now.

  3. dculberson says:

    Not nuclear – coal. From Wiki:

    “Thorpe Marsh Power Station was a 1 Gigawatt (GW) (1000 MW) coal-fired power station”

    cooling towers are used just to cool things, not solely for nuclear plants. They’ve just sort of become the visual indicator of a nuclear plant because they became common around the beginning of the nuclear era.

  4. TJBlackwell says:

    Wow, thanks for posting this article Xeni! It’s very flattering to see these images on Boing Boing and a privilege to share them with you.

  5. TokenFrenchDude says:

    That would make a great TF2 map

  6. OldBrownSquirrel says:

    Many years ago, before digital cameras came to dominate the market and when scanners were scarce, a friend was able to borrow a scanner. His first instinct was to photograph the local power plant, uuencode the images, and upload them to

    Yes, I am old.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I’ve been inside one of Thorpe Marsh’s cooling towers (though the little door) when the station was still operational. What’s missing in these pictures is the pipework and wooden slats that make up the lower part of the cooling tower.

    There is talk of building a gas powered station there due to its grid connections.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Utility power plants typically waste 2/3 of the fuel energy as heat. Then another 4 to 7% of energy is wasted as distribution losses.

    It would be much better for people to use small co-generators or solar panels.

    Of course, politicians like big campaign contributions which require big profits which requires centralized everything.

  9. Layne says:

    Really wonderful shots.
    I bet that place takes on a completely different atmosphere at night.

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