Ferrybridge C Power Station, West Yorkshire

Ferrybridge C Power Station, West Yorkshire

Ferrybridge C Power Station in West Yorkshire was commissioned by the Central Electricity Generating Board and was built between 1962 to 1968. The ‘C’ Station was the third power station to be built at Ferrybridge. The ‘A’ Station building remains and is now used by RWE as their national heavy engineering facility. The ‘B’ Station was demolished after its closure in 1992.

Aerial view of Ferrybridge C with the cooling towers behind the power station buildings
Aerial view of Ferrybridge C with the cooling towers behind the power station buildings

Ferrybridge C had a capacity of 2 GW from four x 500 MW generating sets supplied by CA Parsons. The CEGB chose Ferrybridge to trail the new 500 MW units, the world’s first single-line turbogenerator sets of this size.

In addition to the main generating units, Ferrybridge C Power Station was built with four gas turbines with a combined capacity of 68 MW. Two of the four gas turbines were retired in the late 1990s, reducing their capacity to 34 MW.

A barge train approaching Ferrybridge loaded with coal
A barge train approaching Ferrybridge loaded with coal

Coal was supplied initially via barges on the Aire and Calder Navigation Canal, utilising a barge tippler capable of unloading 210 ton barges in nine minutes. The tippler was retired in the late 1990s and an automated system was built to receive deliveries via rail.

Cooling water was drawn from the River Aire and after circulating through the power station, was cooled using the station’s 8 cooling towers. The towers were 115m high. The plant had two 198m chimneys. Ash was transported as a slurry via underground pipeline to the Gale Common Ash Disposal Site.

Flu Gas Desulphurisation was fitted to units 3 and 4 in 2009. This allowed those units to meet the requirements of the Large Combustion Plant Directive (LCPD), while units 1 and 2 were closed on 28th March 2014. In 2013 SSE announced the station would opt out of the EU Industrial Emissions Directive. Ferrybridge C generated its last electricity on 23rd March 2016. The reasons stated were “irreparable damage” caused by a major fire in 2014, and that the station was now a loss-making operation, predicted to lose £100 million over the following five years.

The sun sets behind Ferrybridge C Power Station
The sun sets behind Ferrybridge C Power Station

Buildings and Plant Detail

Ferrybridge C TurbinesTurbine Hall

Ferrybridge had 4 x 500MW turbine-generator sets manufactured by Parsons

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Ferrybridge Boiler House and MillsBoiler House

The four boilers at Ferrybridge were manufactured by Babcock and Wilcox.

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Ferrybridge C Control RoomControl Room

The control room at Ferrybridge remained largely original

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Ferrybridge C Water Treatment Plant and CW Pump HouseWater Treatment Plant

The water treatment plant ensured purity of the water used for steam

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Ferrybridge C Admin and WorkshopsAdmin, Workshops & Bathhouse

Admin and workshops were in a block to one side

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Ferrybridge Coal Plant and Barge TipplerCoal Plant & Barge Tippler

Ferrybridge had extensive coal handling facilities

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Ferrybridge C Image Gallery

Visit the plant detail pages above to view more images from each area of the power plant

Ferrybridge 'C' Power Station front entrance
Ferrybridge ‘C’ Power Station front entrance

2014 Fire at Ferrybridge C

Fire at Ferrybridge C Power Station
Fire at Ferrybridge C Power Station

On 31st July 2014 a serious fire broke out in the Flue Gas Desulphurisation (FGD) Plant for unit 4. Unit 3 was also affected by the fire. Neither unit was operational at the time due to maintenance. Unit 3 returned to service on 29th October 2014, and unit 4 on 15th December 2014. The fire had completely destroyed the FGD of unit 4, meaning that unit had to burn very low sulphur coal in order to comply with emissions regulations. The supply of very low sulphur coal ran out in March 2015, at which point unit 4 was retired. The one remaining unit was closed a year later, the reason stated by SSE was “irreparable damage” caused by the fire resulting in a loss-making operation.

Cooling Tower Collapse

The cooling towers at Ferrybridge C power station were arranged in two parallel staggered rows, 350ft apart. Each cooling tower was 350ft high, with diameters at the base of 350ft, at the throat 165ft and at the top 180ft. All were constructed of reinforced concrete shells 5 inches thick. Construction of the cooling towers was completed in 1964.

One of the cooling towers collapsing
One of the cooling towers collapsing

On the morning of Monday 1st November 1965 a gale was blowing at Ferrybridge, with a wind speed of 44 m/s at the top edge of the cooling towers (a wind speed that occurs around once every 5 years at Ferrybridge). Vortices formed between cooling towers of the first row, loading the towers of the second row. The vortex frequency was approximately the same as the natural frequency of the towers (0.6 Hz).

The vortex loading caused three of the four towers in the second row to collapse. An eyewitness said that some towers where moving like belly dancers. The second tower from the southern edge of the leeward row (tower 1B) collapsed first, at about 10.30am. The one immediately north-west of it (tower 1A) collapsed about 10 minutes later and the one north-west of that tower (tower 2A) at 11.20am. All three were in the leeward row and were fully completed.

The collapsed towers were replaced and the remaining towers were strengthened with an extra thickness of reinforced concrete.

Documents and Schematics

Visit the plant detail pages above for documents and schematics specific to each area of the station

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