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24 September 2014
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November, 2003
Uncool towers cause country strife
Didcot Power Station
Love 'em or hate 'em, Didcot Power Stations draws powerful reactions (picture: Karen Stay)

Locals love them, but readers of Country Life have given their spluttering verdict on Didcot's cooling towers: Knock 'em down!

Read about Oxfordshire's worst eyesores here.


SEE ALSO

Oxfordshire eyesores are in the eyes of the angry - your least-loved places in the county (and a few words of praise for Didcot Power Station)

WEB LINKS

Charles Burns's portrait of Didcot Power Station

POWER FACTS

Didcot power station was built in the 1960s.

It was designed by the architect Frederick Gibberd - the man also responsible for Liverpool's Roman Catholic cathedral, the Heathrow terminal buildings, and Harlow new town.

Glider pilots like to fly over the towers because they send up a blast of hot air that lifts the aircraft higher into the sky, so they can fly further.

The power station has its own railway branch line for the daily delivery of many tons of coal to fuel it.


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Click here to tell us about Oxfordshire eyesores and your favourite buildings. Pictures are welcome!

Bill Bryson wrote about them in his comic travelogue, Notes From A Small Island, and they featured in an episode of Morse.

LISTEN
Click to hear Eric Hobson of Didcot Power Station and conservationist Catherine Petts (Real player needed)
Click for audio

For some, the smoking towers of Didcot Power Station are an inspirational sight, dominating the landscape north of the ancient Ridgeway.

They've even been nicknamed The Cathedral of the Vale (a good place for a baptism of fire, perhaps).

But now they've been named as the third most-hated blot on the UK landscape by the readers of the upmarket magazine, Country Life.

Wind farms and Birmingham's New Street Station came first and second (though it's some years since New Street was surrounded by fields).

Artist Charles Burns has even depicted the power station in pastels. "Though nobody can doubt that it is a blot on the landscape," he says, "it does have a certain majesty about it."

Eric Hobson, the power station's regulation manager, told BBC Oxford that many local people love the towers, and said they'd probably have a preservation order slapped on them if anyone really suggested demolition.

He said: "I'm clearly disappointed. I think it's a splendid-looking building, particularly the cooling towers."

And they even earned a bold defence from Catherine Petts, of the Council for the Preservation of Rural England.

Click here to listen to them both being interviewed by BBC Radio Oxford's Jonathan Hancock (Real player needed: see box above for download details).

 

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