The history behind Rugeley Power Station

It is a milestone moment for Rugeley as the four large cooling towers at the former Rugeley Power Station are reduced to rubble.

Rugeley power station cooling towers, viewed from Thorne Close
Rugeley power station cooling towers, viewed from Thorne Close

The station ceased all operations on June 8, 2016, and since then decommissioning had started – a total of 60 years since work first started on the site.

Work started on the construction of the Rugeley A Power Station in 1956, with the site chosen due to the availability of land, water, coal and transport links.

It marked the first joint venture between the Central Electricity Generating Board the National Coal Board and it was situated next to the Lea Hall Colliery.

The £14 million colliery, which opened in 1960, was directly next door and allowed the coal to be transported directly onto a conveyor belt to generate electricity.

Rugeley A Power Station was opened up in 1963 whilst the Rugeley B Power Station was commissioned in 1970 and was opened in 1972 on the sprawling site.

It is believed the A station burnt more than 41 million during its lifetime whilst the B station provided enough electricity to power roughly half a million homes.


In 1983, with both stations in operation, there were 850 people employed at the stations.

They were operated by the Central Electricity Generating Board, but following privatisation in 1990, were handed over to National Power.

A year later – in January 1991 – the Lea Hall colliery was closed down, meaning all the coal burned in the stations needed to be delivered by rail.

The closure of the A station began in 1994 and was completed the following year ahead of its demolition in 1996.

Meanwhile, in July 1996, the B station was bought by Eastern Generation – which itself was acquired by TXU Europe.

It was subsequently sold off and changed hands, with an idea being formed in March 2012 to potentially convert the station to run using biomass fuel. A year later the proposals were scrapped.

And in 2016 it was announced the power station would finally close as owners ENGIE, who are leading the redevelopment of the site, blamed a deterioration in market conditions which included a fall in market prices and increasing carbon costs. The closure resulted in the loss of around 150 jobs.

It ceased all operations in June and decommissioning soon started – with the demolition of the turbine hall and boiler house taking place between November 2019 and August the following year.

The 183m chimney was demolished on January 24 with the latest milestone being reached on Sunday with the demolition of the four cooling towers.

There will be one more, smaller scale explosive demolition event before completion of the demolition programme later in the year.

Meanwhile plans to transform the site with 2,300 homes and an all-through school among other developments were backed by both Cannock Chase District Council and Lichfield District Council in April this year.

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