An Industrial Town


An Industrial Town

Rugeley is a town in Staffordshire with a long industrial heritage. Noted in the Doomsday book in 1086, the town later became a market town in the 13th century. Sitting on the banks of the River Trent, Rugeley was known in the medieval period for iron working and glass manufacture. During the Industrial Revolution, the Trent and Mersey canal benefitted the town, which was becoming known for its coal provision. Lea Hall Colliery began producing coal in the early 1960s and the town played host to two coal-fired power stations from the 1960s until their final demolition in July 2021.

Construction of ‘Rugeley A’ power station began in the 1950s and was opened in 1961. The power station, with its 5 cooling towers, was powered by coal taken from the adjacent colliery and was the first such arrangement in Britain. ‘Rugeley B’ power station was commissioned in 1970, adding a further four iconic cooling towers to the skyline.

Rugeley A was decommissioned in the early 1990s following the closure of the colliery in 1991 and was eventually demolished in 1996, making way for new housing. Rugeley B continued operating until 2016. Demolition of the site began in 2019 with the four cooling towers coming down as a dramatic finale in July 2021.

Power Station A Construction 1958 (Engie 2021)

Power Station A Construction cooling tower 1958 (Engie 2021)

Power Station B Construction c.1966 (Engie 2021)

Rugeley Power Station cooling towers demolition, July 2021. Paul L.G. Morris/TTTV

Rugeley Skyline: Then and Now - Image Switcher

Compare the skyline of Rugeley between c. 1960s and 2021. Notice how the cooling towers and the chimneys of ‘Rugeley A’ Power Station have been demolished and new homes now overlook the Trent and Mersey Canal. This shows how much the skyline of the town has changed over the last 60 years and how much more developed it has become. The canal is still a feature of the town, providing a wonderful haven for walkers, boaters and wildlife.

The original photograph is supplied by National Waterways Archive, Canal and River Trust, BW200-1-99-91-4. The modern image is supplied courtesy of Paul LG Morris, 2021.

Rugeley Power Station: Then and Now - Image Switcher

Use the slider to compare the view across Rugeley to the Cooling Towers of ‘Rugeley B’ Power Station. The first was taken in early 2021 and the second in later 2021 following the demolition at the site.

Images supplied courtesy of Paul LG Morris, 2021.

Discover more of the Trent Valley landscape in our photo gallery.