(If I were going to give this blog entry something of a melodramatic subtitle it would be “how will I know when I’m home?”)
I try quite hard not to make specific mentions of where I live. But at the same time given I’ve been blogging in various forms for almost 14 years (since before it was called blogging in fact) and that boundary didn’t always exist for me and also given that a lot of people who read this are people that know me I think the fact I live in Didcot is something of an open secret on here.
So I grew up with Didcot Power Station as a landmark of home. With the exception of the four years I lived in Stoke on Trent for uni it’s been a daily sight in my life.
And last year it shut down. In about a month three of the six cooling towers with be brought down by explosion. The other three on a later date in 2016 I believe. Putting aside the fact that environmentally closing the power station was the right thing to do the fact that in less than a month my walk home from town won’t be with the cooling towers on the horizon makes me sad.
Because if you live in Didcot the power station is about more than power.
It was the “that’s where my Daddy works” when I was a child because he worked there until I was in my early teens. So it’s also the driving on site to see him and the discos and visits to Father Christmas in thee social club. A packet of crisps and a glass of coke back in the days those were an exciting treat. I think my mum catered some events there too. The first Take Your Daughter to Work Day I went on there where they put on a load of activities and had lots of girls there. We rang my Gran from the office and told her how I’d gone to work with Dad. And the second when they didn’t put anything on and I mostly did my maths homework and helped my Dad reset his password.
It’s seeing it and knowing you’re nearly home. The feeling of relief after a long day of travelling when all you want is it to be over – the train goes past the towers and you know we’re practically in to the station then five minutes and I’m home. It’s being on a long drive through the county last year dropping multiple people off in different villages I didn’t know so I lost track of where we were. It felt never ending but then I saw the cooling towers and “oh, there’s Didcot.”
It’s being in the car with my family as a child and my brother and sister and I watching out for the power station all wanting to be the first to call out “I can see the chimney pots!” It was a bit of a competition. And returning from holiday just off the ferry from France or coming off the plane we all agreed “the holiday isn’t over yet. It’s not over until you can see the power station.” I have friends who had the same traditions or very similar ones in their families.
A story from one of my CAB colleagues about the fact that 40 years ago no one wanted it built. And now no one wants it to go.
The end of “power station snow” – iffy snow on days we might not have otherwise got it that never lasted long because it was just the steam frozen (or so my Dad claimed)
It’s driving home from a sailing club meal on the day they closed it last year and seeing the words “thank you for 40 years” projected on to it in green writing.
It was this afternoon in my friend’s car driving back from Reading. And realising that more than likely I’ll never be in a car driving that route looking at the power station in the distance ever again. We both agreed, lovely few hours in Reading but that thought was a sad one.
Non Didcot people have talked about being a blight on the landscape because you can see it for miles and it’s good that it’s going. But this week my facebook feed is full of posts about it. And most of the Didcot people are like me and will miss it. Many ask “how will I know I’m nearly home?”
The Didcot B power station is remaining and will continue to generate electricity. But like I say Didcot A was always about more than electricity and it can’t replace the feeling of part of what makes Didcot what it was and the feeling of home.