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End of an era: Ironbridge Power Station is shut down

Telford | News | Published:

Ironbridge Power Station has been shut down this afternoon. Former employee Mike Smith turned the power off just after 2.30pm.

Last Friday the company said that the station would cease power production this week but was unable to provide a precise date because it said it was commercially sensitive.

Watch the moment the power station was switched off:

Earlier a statement from the company said: "E.ON has today confirmed that Ironbridge Power Station 1 in Shropshire will cease commercial generation at 1430 hours, and will permanently close following 46 years of service.

Mike Smith at the control console

"The iconic plant, which will reach its 20,000 hours limit of generation under the Large Combustion Plant Directive2 today, was officially first synchronised to the grid by former E.ON colleague Mike Smith in 1969 and has played an important role in generating the electricity required to power homes and businesses in the UK ever since.

The power station's last moments are captured by Star reader Kerri Doran from Much Wenlock

"Mike, who retired from his role as Shift Charge Engineer at Ironbridge in 1992, has been invited back to press the button to cease generation and mark the closure of the plant.

The key that switched the power off

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"A small team will now begin the decommissioning phase, which is due to run until early 2017, ensuring the plant is shut down safely and the site is secure.

"The team will also remove fixtures and equipment from the buildings, including a large mosaic which was designed and created by pupils from St Martins Modern School in 1966.

"The mosaic, which has been prominently displayed in the plant's main conference room, will be returned to the school in Oswestry.

"Once the decommissioning process is complete, a decision will be made regarding the future of the Ironbridge site and E.ON will provide updates as appropriate."

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Tony Cocker, E.ON Chief Executive, said: "I'm hugely proud of the contribution Ironbridge Power Station has made to the UK's energy infrastructure for almost half a century.

"The closure of such an iconic plant will of course be tinged with sadness having played such an important role in the community – over 400 people worked on site when Ironbridge was at the peak of generation, many from the local area.

"I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have supported the ongoing operations and maintenance at the plant, and our continued focus will be supporting those colleagues who are directly affected by today's closure."

Mr Smith, who lives at Shawbirch said: "It was a great honour to be given the responsibility of synchronising Ironbridge Power Station to the UK electricity supply system in 1969, when I was starting my career in the energy industry.

"I relocated to Shropshire when I was appointed as assistant shift charge engineer and continued to work at the plant for over 25 years. Obviously many people will have mixed emotions today, but I'm proud to have contributed to the success of a power station which has been at the cornerstone of energy generation and has supported the careers of many members of staff for so many years."

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The construction of Ironbridge Power Station began in 1962 and is located close to where the Industrial Revolution began. The plant was originally designed to run on coal and at full capacity was capable of generating up to 1000MW from two 500MW units. It was later converted to biomass and electrical output was reduced to 740MW. However, only one of the two units has been operational following a fire in 2014 and capacity was further reduced to 370MW.

Workers gather to witness the end of an era

Originally powered by coal, the station was converted to use biomass fuel.

There are currently around 130 workers on site. Only a small team of 14 will be kept on after the shutdown to oversee a 15-month period of the decommissioning of the plant.

Workers gather inthe control room

The closure of the power station is required by the EU's Large Combustion Plant Directive but it comes despite Britain's electricity supplies set to be at their tightest levels in a decade this winter. The government has announced that all polluting coal-fired power stations will be closed by 2025, as it signalled a new dash for gas.

In October the Ironbridge Power Station (Abbey) Sports and Social Club closed for the last time.

Items from the the club went under the hammer at a special auction. Hundreds of people took the chance to bid items ranging from chairs to snooker tables.

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