Didcot power station towers demolished

Kate Hartwright from Didcot said it looked like the towers "were never there"

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Three enormous cooling towers at the disused Didcot A Power Station in Oxfordshire have been demolished.

The blast, conducted with more than 180kg of explosives, flattened 36,000 tonnes of material in seconds and was streamed live online.

Hundreds of people gathered to watch the towers come down at 05:01 BST, despite warnings of a huge dust cloud.

The decision to carry out the demolition before sunrise was criticised by some residents.

The coal-fired power station ceased generating in March last year after dominating the skyline around the town since 1970.

Didcot Power Station Hundreds of people stayed up overnight to view the demolition from afar
After Didcot power station demolition The demolition team said they were pleased with the operation
Didcot power station before and after explosion Hundreds of people camped out overnight to see the towers disappear from the landscape

Mark Coleman, managing director of demolition firm Coleman and Company, tweeted: #DidcotDemolition well done to all involved. A professional textbook job. Thank you to all the locals. I hope you enjoyed it #teamwork

Many people camped out all night or got up early to watch the towers come down online, while #DidcotDemolition quickly became a trending topic on Twitter.

Gilliam Miles said: "Up at 2am and watched it from Ladygrove with hundreds of others - emotional moment. Will miss them."

Tina Banham said: "They went down so quickly - we were watching a water vole whilst waiting in Appleford, heard the explosion and they seemed to be down in seconds. Could have missed it had explosion not been so loud."

Stuart Kerry added: "I saw them being built when I was young and now have seen them come down via the internet live here in the USA."

Christine Wallace Great British Bake Off contestant Christine Wallace made an edible tribute to the towers

Last year's Great British Bake Off quarter-finalist, and Didcot resident, Christine Wallace had made her own edible tribute to the towers before she watched them crumble.

She told BBC Radio Oxford: "My heart was thumping, all our hearts were thumping, just waiting to see what was going to happen.

"But then, in a second, what was there in front of us was no more. It was very moving actually."

Spectators had been advised to stay away from the "difficult to access" site and watch the event online instead.

At the scene: Katharine Da Costa - BBC Oxford

Spectators had started arriving at 22:00 on Saturday and many had been up all night by the time the towers came down.

Renditions of The Final Countdown rang out from the crowd as the anticipation grew.

After dominating the skyline for more than 40 years - the towers were reduced to rubble in under 10 seconds.

There were cheers and applause as many captured the historic moment on mobile phones and cameras.

Some witnesses said it was worth the wait and they were sad to see them go - others however felt the whole thing was a bit of an anti-climax.


For those determined to witness the event, Earth Trust opened its car park at Wittenham Clumps, while First Great Western also offered free parking at its Foxhall Road car park.

Residents wanting the explosion to take place in the daylight "for everyone to see" had set up a Facebook page and petition, which received more than 3,000 signatures.

But Guy Esnouf, NPower's director of communications, said experts including the Health and Safety Executive, Thames Valley Police and Network Rail had advised an early time.

He said: "We had 180kg of high explosives. That is an awful lot and you clearly don't want people and explosives near together. Safety has to come first."

Following the explosion, a clean up operation has started to clear the area of dust, including the nearby railway line.

The demolition firm said roads and the railway were clear by 07:00.

Homes and gardens being covered in dust had caused concern among some local residents living in nearby Foxhall Manor Park.

But Kieran Conarty from Coleman and Company said there would be "a series of jet washes to clean footpaths, buildings, roofs".

"Behind that there will be a series of road sweepers and behind that will be a series of operatives literally picking up the pieces."

Didcot A : Form and aesthetics

• The 2000 MW coal-fired power station (now also gas-fired and biomass fuelled) was constructed between 1965 and 1974

• The towers stood at 375 ft (114m)

• Each tower was designed to cool 9 million gallons of water per hour

• The consultant architect was Frederick Gibberd, who also designed Liverpool's Metropolitan Cathedral

• Gibberd designed a scheme that would maintain the wide views across the Vale of the White Horse

• As the site was in a flat valley, Gibberd devised "earth hedges" to screen the coal yard from the main railway and security fence

Source: English Heritage

Clean up after Didcot demolition Cleaners were sent out to clear dust from the surrounding areas

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BBC Oxford



Min. Night 8 °C

BBC Local Live

    18:00: Good evening

    That's it for Local Live for Oxfordshire for today. We'll be back to bring you all the news, sport, travel and weather from 08:00 on Friday.

    17:57: Evening TV Geraldine Peers Presenter, BBC South Today

    On South Today this evening: It's Thanksgiving - the celebration of harvest is almost as big as Christmas in America and now it's having an impact here too.

    Greg Klaes

    A former Oxfordshire teacher who started growing pumpkins thirty years ago says demand for his produce has never been higher.

    Join me for that and more at 18:30.

    17:54: Dry and mild night Dan Downs BBC Spotlight weather presenter

    Into this evening there will be one or two showers around, but for many it should stay dry.

    Dan Downs

    Some clear spells, but also a fair amount of cloud and hill fog with a bit of mist.

    There will be a breeze which should disperse some of the mist overnight, and temperatures will stay mild with lows of 7C (45F).

    17:44: Is the download dead? BBC Radio Oxford

    More than one million vinyl records have been sold in the UK so far this year - the first time the milestone has been achieved since 1996.

    A hand on a record

    Gary Smith owns two record shops in Oxfordshire, and told Howard Bentham that his customers fall in to two categories.

    He said: "You get the collectors and people that have always known vinyl, and loved it, and for them it's never gone away, but there's certainly a much younger crowd that are new to vinyl."

    He explained: "To download or stream something doesn't have that sense of ownership, and to really buy-in to a band you want an actual artefact to hold in your hand. It's a more rewarding experience."

    17:35: Recycling views win prizes

    Cherwell District Council is offering some recycling products as prizes for people who complete an online questionnaire suggesting ways to create a cleaner, greener environment.

    Recycling bins

    It is the councils third annual Energy and Environment survey to find out more about waste, recycling and energy issues across the area.

    Everyone who completes the short survey will automatically be entered into the prize draw, with 20 lucky winners offered a free blue recycling bin or five rolls of compostable bio-liners.

    17:30: Didcot assault appeal

    Thames Valley have released CCTV images of two victims that officers would like to speak to after a series of assaults in Didcot.

    CCTV of victims of an assault in Didcot

    Two men kicked a man and woman in a kebab shop in Broadway before punching a member of staff and damaging the shop.

    Officers want to trace the customers hurt in the attacks on 15 November.

    17:23: United sign second striker

    Oxford have signed their second striker today, with Wes Burns joining on loan from Bristol City.

    Wes Burns

    The 20-year-old Welsh under-21 international has scored twice for City this season.

    United Boss Michael Appleton said: "We needed to strengthen up front and the fact that Wes can play in two or three positions is a massive bonus for us."

    17:09: M40 lane closed Sara Dumbell Travel presenter, BBC Radio Oxford

    On the M40 southbound one lane is closed due to a broken down vehicle on the exit slip road at junction six for Watlington.

    There are problems in Didcot - I'm just getting reports that the A4130 westbound is partially blocked by a broken down car near to Great Western Park at the B4493.

    The queues on the A4130 are back to the A34 Milton Interchange and on the B4493 to Cow Lane.

    16:58: News on the hour Phil Mercer Newsreader, BBC Radio Oxford

    The closure of a hostel for young people in Oxford has been welcomed by local residents and Oxfordshire County Council.

    Join me for all the headlines at 17:00.

    16:44: Fish released into River Thames

    The Environment Agency have been adding fish stocks to the River Thames. They tweeted: 3000 chub, 3000 dace & 3000 roach stocked into R #Thame this morning. All swam off happily. Good size fish!

    Fish release
    16:35: Tributes to PD James

    Authors have been taking to twitter to pay tribute to PD James, who died at her home in Oxford today.

    PD James

    Patricia Cornwell tweets: RIP #PDJames &thanks for encouraging me when I was getting started.

    Tracy Chevalier tweets: RIP PD James. Met her several times @Soc_of_Authors when she was President. Elegant, sharp, modest. Best example of growing old w grace.

    Ian Rankin tweets: So sad about PD James. Every event I did with her was a joy. Sharp intellect, ready wit. She will be missed.

    16:21: Dairy farmers face difficult future Kat Orman Afternoon presenter, BBC Radio Oxford

    Dairy farmers have seen the price they are paid for the milk they produce drop from around 33p per litre in the spring to around 27p.


    Rob Harrison has a dairy farm in Moreton-in-Marsh and told me that farmers are facing a difficult time: "Farmers are struggling to make money, they have bills to pay, animals to look after, it's a 365-day-a-year job. There's a lot of pressure."

    But he said there was hope for the future: "There is a growing global population so there is an opportunity, we need to overcome the current volatility and we need to see retailers and consumers buying British dairy products."

    16:06: David Attenborough in Oxford Oxford Times

    Sir David Attenborough will be signing copies of his new book in Oxford today.

    15:58: News on the hour Phil Mercer Newsreader, BBC Radio Oxford

    Police have released CCTV footage to try to trace the victims of a series of assaults in Didcot.

    I'll have more on that and the other headlines at 16:00.

    15:46: Ebola 'turning point' BBC Radio Oxford

    There are "encouraging signs" in the fight against the Ebola virus in west Africa, according to the director of the Welcome Trust in Oxford.

    Girls look at a Unicef poster on how to prevent the spread of Ebola

    Jeremy Farrar has been speaking on the day the trial of an experimental Ebola vaccine has been called a success by US scientists.

    He told Howard Bentham that the international response was finally beginning to make a real difference: "Communication, building of trust, vaccines, drugs, working with communities - that jigsaw puzzle is now in place and if we live up to our promises and the vaccines prove effective then we are at a turning point."

    15:34: Staffies dominate dog sanctuary Wallingford Herald

    Every dog has his day, but staff at Oxfordshire Animal Sanctuary are hoping their Staffordshire Bull Terriers have a special month, with 17 out of the 62 dogs at the sanctuary Staffies.

    15:18: Protest at Tommy Robinson speech Dave Gilyeat BBC News

    Unite Against Fascism staged a protest outside the Oxford Union to protest the a talk being given by the founder of the English Defence League Tommy Robinson.

    Unite Agaist Fascism protest

    Weyman Bennett, national secretary of UAF, said it had called the demonstration because it believed Mr Robinson still held racist views.

    He said "I don't believe by giving him a platform we contribute to stopping far-right views, in fact we endorse them. The danger is it gives respectability to a part of politics that should not be given respect."

    15:11: Tommy Robinson 'happy' with Union speech

    The founder of the English Defence League gave a speech to the Oxford Union last night, and told BBC Radio Oxford that he was pleased with the response he received.

    Tommy Robinson

    He said: "It went very well, I was completely honoured and I'm happy. It was a good reaction from the audience, they said I was not what they expected and they were happy to hear what I had to say."

    Mr Robinson decried a protest by 20 people outside the venue, and an attempt to stop his appearance: "The definition of fascism is trying to prevent someone having a difference of opinion to you. All those 200 who signed a petition to have me banned. That's fascist. Come and debate me."

    15:00: News on the hour Phil Mercer Newsreader, BBC Radio Oxford

    There are likely to be long delays on roads around North Oxford after Thames Water put in temporary lights on the Banbury Road so that it can repair a collapsed sewer.

    Joni me for all the headlines at 15:00.

    14:45: Albert falters at final hurdle

    A Thames Valley Police horse has been named as a runner up in a star-studded national award.

    Albert the horse

    Albert, a 17-year-old Irish draught cross, was nominated in the public sector category of this year's RSPCA and Daily Mirror Animal Hero Awards.

    He has worked on demonstrations, Royal protection and football matches but was pipped to the award by a Metropolitan police dog.

    Along with Albert and host Amanda Holden, celebrities including singer Alexandra Burke, former Pussycat Dolls member Ashley Roberts and animal enthusiast and TV presenter Bill Oddie were also present.

    14:35: Feedback Andrew Humphrey BBC Local Live

    What do you think of BBC Local Live?

    It's a new service which aims to bring you the latest news, sport, travel and weather all in one place. We'd like your feedback about this service.

    14:27: Kidlington disruption

    There is a lane closed on the A4260 Frieze Way in Kidlington, near the A44 Woodstock Road junction, because of roadworks and restrictions.

    14:10: PD James sold millions

    PD James penned more than 20 books and sold millions around the world, with many adapted for television and film.

    PD James

    Among her best known novels include The Children of Men, The Murder Room and Pride and Prejudice spin-off Death Comes to Pemberley.

    13:58: News on the hour Phil Mercer Newsreader, BBC Radio Oxford

    One of the most respected British crime writers, PD James, has died at her home in Oxford at the age of 94.

    I'll have more details at 14:00.

    13:42: PD James has died

    Novelist PD James has died, aged 94, at her home in Oxford, her agent confirms.

    She was known as the Queen of crime fiction, the creator of the suave, cerebral police officer, Adam Dalgliesh.

    13:25: Lunchtime TV BBC South Today

    On South Today this lunchtime: A three-year-old boy has been left with permanent kidney damage after contracting a rare and potentially life-threatening form of E-coli following an outbreak in Dorset.


    Since July, 10 people in Blandford and Bournemouth have been diagnosed with the bacterial illness - which can come from poor hygiene and raw food.

    Join Roger Finn at 13:30.

    13:11: Oxfam CEO defends £120,000 salary BBC Radio Oxford

    Mark Goldring, the chief executive of the charity Oxfam has defended his salary.

    Oxfam's Mark Goldring

    He acknowledged that explaining his salary was "difficult", when they had to ask lower paid people to donate.

    He told Howard Bentham: "We need to be open, you are running a large enterprise, far bigger than most businesses, but we also need to balance that with our values of running a charity. Out of every pound, nine pence is spent on running the charity and paying staff."

    12:58: News on the hour Phil Mercer Newsreader, BBC Radio Oxford

    Thousands of fish are being released into the River Thames at Kings Weir in Oxford today to boost depleted fish populations.

    I'll have more on that at 13:00.

    12:44: 'Step up' for striker Campbell BBC Radio Oxford

    Oxford United's new striker John Campbell told BBC Radio Oxford's Howard Bentham that the move to the Kassam was "a big step up".

    He said: "I scored 24 goals in 15 games and have had a lot of interest from different clubs, but the lads at Oxford were great so I wasn't interested in any other club, but it took three weeks to go through and it was the longest three weeks of my life.

    "I just want to be out there playing and scoring goals and winning games for the club."

    12:26: Sunrise in Didcot Andrew Humphrey BBC Local Live

    We've been sent this picture of this dramatic sunrise in Didcot by Paul Bodsworth.


    If you have a photo you'd like to share with the rest of Oxfordshire, why not email to me.

    12:11: Lorry cycle guards Oxford Mail

    Lorries should be forced to fit life-saving side guards, city councillors will be urged to tell transport bosses.

    11:58: News on the hour Sue Kinnear Newsreader, BBC Radio Oxford

    Survival rates for patients diagnosed with cancer in Oxfordshire will be hit because of the length of time they have to wait before being referred for treatment, according to the Macmillan Cancer Trust.

    I'll have more on that at 12:00.

    11:41: Pedestrian killed by car in Abingdon Indy Almroth-Wright BBC Online

    A woman died when she was hit by a car in Abingdon, Oxfordshire.

    The 81-year-old was struck by a Ford Focus as she walked along the A4183 Oxford Road, Lodge Hill on Wednesday at about 17:00.

    She was pronounced dead at the scene, Thames Valley Police said.

    11:21: Nurse recruitment reopens beds BBC Radio Oxford

    Beds that have been closed since September at the Abingdon and Witney Community hospitals are about to be brought back into use.

    Witney Community Hospital

    Director of Nursing at the Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, Ros Halstead told BBC Radio Oxford that the hospitals were close to being back to full staff levels.

    She said: "We do have capacity peaks and troughs so as we are heading into the winter months now we want to be at full capacity."

    11:09: Abuse charity expanding Witney Gazette

    An Oxfordshire domestic abuse charity is going to expand throughout the Thames Valley as it eyes its 10th birthday.

    10:57: News on the hour Sue Kinnear Newsreader, BBC Radio Oxford

    A lecture by the former leader of the English Defence League, Tommy Robinson, was attended by 250 people at the Oxford Union.

    Join me for all the headlines at 11:00.

    10:49: Weather watch Andrew Humphrey BBC Local Live

    As we heard from Dan Downs, it's a murky day.

    Summertown in Oxford

    The view from the BBC Oxford newsroom is certainly abruptly curtailed by a curtain of cloud. What's the scenery like where you are? Send in you pics to Local Live.

    10:37: John Campbell signs BBC Radio Oxford

    Oxford United have completed the signing of Jarrow striker John Campbell.

    John Campbell

    The new arrival will be on BBC Radio Oxford with Howard Bentham at 10:45.

    10:28: Cycle networks Oxford Times

    Oxford has today been named as one of eight to share in a £114m Government pot to accelerate development of local cycling networks, increase protection for cyclists at dangerous junctions and help prevent accidents.

    10:17: Emergency sewer works BBC Radio Oxford

    Thames Water are carrying out emergency sewer works in Summertown, north of the shops on the A4165 at the junction with Grove Street.

    Temporary lights began at 09:30 this morning and will be in place 24 hours a day. Severe congestion is expected until 15 December.

    Sarah Sharp from Thames Water told Phil Gayle: "We have got a collapsed sewer pipe and we need to repair it to prevent any sewer flooding to nearby homes. Unfortunately the manhole is right in the middle of the road. We are sorry about this."

    10:08: On air Will Wilkin Producer, BBC Radio Oxford

    This morning on the Howard Bentham show: The Oxford founded-and-based charity Oxfam is currently heavily involved in the aid effort to help countries affected by the Ebola crisis in West Africa.

    A patient is treated

    The chief executive of the charity, Mark Goldring will be joining Howard shortly.

    09:58: News on the hour Sue Kinnear Newsreader, BBC Radio Oxford

    Twelve beds at the Abingdon and Witney Community hospitals - that have been closed since September - are about to be brought back into use.

    I'll have more on that at 10:00.

    09:44: Cancer patients waiting too long Phil Gayle Breakfast presenter, BBC Radio Oxford

    BBC Radio Oxford can reveal that cancer patients in Oxfordshire are waiting too long before starting treatment.

    Cancer patient

    Government targets say people referred with possible cancer should be seen within 62 days, but the latest figures show a quarter of urgent cancer cases at Oxfordshire hospitals waited more than two months.

    Macmillan Cancer Support's Laura Thomas told me that it is a large problem: "These targets are really important to make sure that people are treated quickly, as they are more likely to survive."

    09:32: Didcot Christmas Fair Lilley Mitchell Reporter, BBC Radio Oxford

    I've been helping to setup the Didcot Christmas Street Fair, which opens to the public this evening.

    Coach bar

    There'll be stalls, Santa Claus, an F1 car and a vintage bus that's been converted into a bar. You can see more of my pictures from the preparations on the BBC Radio Oxford Facebook page.

    09:23: Slow setting tarmac Sara Dumbell Travel presenter, BBC Radio Oxford

    The overrunning roadworks on the M40 junction nine roundabout have now been cleared, and the Highways Agency also initially reported a broken down works vehicle on the northbound A34 approach, but they're now saying that the vehicle was just part of the overrunning works - and it's now all cleared.

    The delays I'm told were with tarmac setting.

    09:08: A34 delays of 30 minutes Sara Dumbell Travel presenter, BBC Radio Oxford

    Continuing to see queues on the A34 Northbound from just after the Botley Interchange to the M40 junction nine - about 30 minute hold ups.

    It's very heavy into Oxford city on all routes from the ring road, and all routes into Abingdon and Clifton Hampden are solidly queued.

    08:58: News on the hour Charles Nove Presenter, BBC Radio Oxford

    Oxfordshire's hospitals aren't beginning treatment for people with cancer quickly enough, according to new figures.

    I'll have more details on this at 09:00.

    08:51: Reduced speed trains

    Chiltern Railways tweets: Travel update - Owing to a vehicle striking a bridge at Monks Risborough trains have to run at a reduced speed in area. Delays from 5 mins.

    08:46: Hostel of murdered Jayden to shut Emma Harrison BBC News Online

    The Oxford hostel where Jayden Parkinson lived before she was murdered by her ex-boyfriend is to close.

    Jayden Parkinson

    One Foot Forward will be "decommissioned" by 31 March and its residents transferred, Oxfordshire County Council said.

    More than 200 people signed a petition calling for the hostel to be shut because of anti-social behaviour.

    Jayden, 17, was staying at the Iffley Road hostel when she was murdered by Ben Blakeley in December last year.

    08:38: A40 accident Sara Dumbell Travel presenter, BBC Radio Oxford

    Gemma has been in touch to report a two car collision on the A40 Eastbound from Marston to the Headington Roundabout - just before Headington - blocking the inside lane.

    08:24: A34 delays Sara Dumbell Travel presenter, BBC Radio Oxford

    Earlier overrunning roadworks on the M40 junction nine roundabout have now been cleared, but there is a broken down works vehicle on the northbound A34 and the combination of the two problems has left severe congestion on the A34.

    There are queues northbound from Peartree to the M40 junction nine.

    Approaching the Oxford Ring Road Southern Bypass contraflow the A34 is solid, and southbound queues are from Peartree to Hinksey. Northbound, queues are from Abingdon North to the Hinksey Hill Interchange.

    08:15: Misty, cloudy and wet. Dan Downs BBC Spotlight weather presenter

    A foggy and misty start, with rain further to the east.

    Dan Downs

    To the west it should generally be a dry day and will see some breaks in the cloud.

    The cloud and murkiness should lift later with temperatures reaching around 11C (52F).

    08:04: A34 roadworks overrun Sara Dumbell Travel presenter, BBC Radio Oxford

    There are 30 minute delays on the A34 northbound because of overrunning roadworks closing a lane on the M40 junction nine roundabout at the interchange for Bicester. they're now in the process of being removed.

    The Highways Agency is also reporting a lane closure on the A34 northbound itself being due to a broken down works vehicle.

    Queues now start at around Kidlington - so several miles already.

    08:00: Good Morning Andrew Humphrey BBC Local Live

    Good morning and welcome to BBC Local Live for Oxfordshire on this very foggy Thursday morning.

    I'm in the BBC Oxford newsroom bringing you the latest news, sport, travel and weather from across the county.

    You can get in touch throughout the day and tell us what you're up to via email, Facebook or Twitter.



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