Saturday, August 02, 2014

The ruins of Northampton power station


The University of Northampton has been given the go ahead to build a new campus to the south of the town centre. So naturally I hurried to see what will be lost when it is built.

If the River Nene to the west of Bridge Street is dominated by the Carlsberg brewery, to the east it is dominated, a little improbably, by the European headquarters of Avon.

It stand beside Nunn Mills Road on the south bank of a backwater of the Nene - a short artificial channel was cut in 1761 to bring the navigation into the town.

But there used to be something far more imposing on the other side of the road: Hardingstone Junction power station. It came on load in 1919 and closed in 1975. Until 1979 there were cooling towers on the site - you can see some photos of their demolition on My Dad's Photos – John Hendy photography.

There is also a distant view of them in this document (pdf) produced in the 1970s by pupils at Delapre School - you can find it on the Far Cotton History Group website.

On a Saturday afternoon Nunn Mills Road was quiet - there was no one around at Avon to object when I climbed the steps of their imposing entrance to get a better vantage point for photographing the remains of the power station.

But back in the Seventies:
We are now moving into one of the difficult sections of our walkway. We are not able to make any positive suggestions on how to solve the problem of pedestrians moving safely through this narrow part of Nunn Mills Road. 
You will notice that there is no pathway. This shows the traffic hazard clearly. Most of the traffic consists of heavy vehicles moving to and from the warehouses that line this road. We can only hope that if development is considered along this road in the near future, provision should be made for pedestrians. We have also thought that it might not be impossible for free access to be made through the Vitovis warehouse on the right hand side of this picture.
The warehouses and heavy vehicles have gone - it is hard to imagine they were ever there - and Nunn Mills Road is not even a through route any more. It does continue as a footpath, and there is plenty to explore along that its length.

I only just got to the power station in time. As you will see from these photographs there are only a couple of (admittedly substantial) facades left.

Soon it will be an attractive university campus full of bright young things (or possibly DMCs) living exciting lives and driving knowledge and the economy on.

"Ah," I shall tell them, "but you should have seen it when it was a derelict power station."

1 comment:

Herbert Eppel said...

Shame the fa├žade(s) couldn't be retained. Is there a Civic Society with a strong voice in Northampton?
Thanks also for the link to the interesting DMC post.