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FERRYBRIDGE COOLING TOWERS

ADDED 13 JANUARY 2010

I have just read an item written by Robert Battye in January 2006 regarding the collapse of the cooling towers at Ferrybridge 'C' Power Station. I remember Roberts father Claude very well as I was employed by Kier as an engineer.

Claude was the Wages Clerk and worked in the office across from the main office block. As the site was being run down prior to handing over the cooling towers to the CEGB there was only a General Foreman, myself, a secretary, storeman and Claude along with approximately 45 men.

Claude came across to the main office and announced to the secretary that the wind was strong enough to blow that tower down over there (pointing at tower 1B) to which the secretary, being in her late fifties, panicked. Claude whether joking or after having had a premonition was correct with what he had said as the tower was down within a few minutes.

My recollection of the mornings events are that we had the majority of the men in Cooling Tower 1B (which was the first one to collapse ) sweeping up and making sure everything was ready to hand over to the CEGB. There had been considerable discussion in the office as to whether we thought it safe for the men to continue working, so it was decided that we would blow the whistle to stop work at 10:00am and send the men home. As the men were returning to the cabins to collect their gear the first tower collapsed with one hell of a roar at 10:10am. As one can imagine a state of panic set in when we realised what was happening and we ran in all directions. After a short period of time a group of us met up across the lane in a car park and waited until we considered it safe to return to site. As we were walking back the second tower (1A) started to collapse, so we all turned and ran back to where we had come from. I was thrown to the floor by an Irish concrete ganger who landed on top of me as protection. The time of the second collapse was 10:30am. After the debris had settled we decided that the safest place to be would be the weighbridge on 'B' station. After a while we decided to retrieve our cars from the car park, and I and a couple of others left the station and went to one of their homes for safety. As we were stood in the kitchen discussing our experiences we saw a cloud of dust appear which we presumed was another tower collapse. Our assumptions were correct as this was tower 2A and the time was 10:50am.

Regarding a head count I seem to remember that this was carried out the following morning when everyone turned in for work as our attempts to carry one out on the day was thwarted by everyone going their own separate ways for their own safety. Fortunately no one was seriously hurt and only three minor injuries were reported.

I hope this recollection has been of interest.

David G. Hicks
13 January 2010


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