South Denes Power Station photographs

Supplied by Duncan Kirkwood

By Colin Stott

Mr Kirkwood's late uncle, Francis G Sargent, was employed by the Central Electricity Generating Board as a structural engineer, and  was closely involved with the design and construction of South Denes Power Station from 1954 until 1958.

He passed on a portfolio of photos of South Denes Power Station taken during its construction in 1955 to 1958 some of which are shown here.  The colour photo was used for the cover of the official brochure for the opening on 26 September 1958.

Duncan writes:-

'There must be many former employees with memories of the complex including Harry McGee, the former mayor.

'I can also add some of my own memorie, for example the names of the small oil tankers (Petworth, Midhurst, and Stanstead and maybe a couple more as well) which shipped the oil to power the station. As I recall, these vessels were all named after Sussex towns ... but so far I can't find Stanstead Sussex?

'I would always look out of my bedroom window to see which way the smoke was blowing out of the power station chimney, thus ascertaining if it was going to be a 'difficult' or an 'assisted' bike ride down Southtown Road to school - and if it was worth going fishing, namely if there was a westerly wind!'

Photo:Colour photograph of South Denes Power Station, used for the cover of the official brochure

Colour photograph of South Denes Power Station, used for the cover of the official brochure

CEGB - courtesy of Duncan Kirkwood

Photo:Photograph showing the construction of the South Denes Power Station, 1954-1958

Photograph showing the construction of the South Denes Power Station, 1954-1958

CEGB - courtesy of Duncan Kirkwood

Photo:Photograph of completed South Denes Power Station, 1958

Photograph of completed South Denes Power Station, 1958

CEGB - courtesy of Duncan Kirkwood

Photo:Photograph of South Denes Power Station from Gorleston side of the River Yare

Photograph of South Denes Power Station from Gorleston side of the River Yare

Photo:Photograph of South Denes Power Station taken from the air - after 1958

Photograph of South Denes Power Station taken from the air - after 1958

CEGB - courtesy of Duncan Kirkwood

This page was added by Colin Stott on 12/01/2010.
Comments about this page

I remember standing on the quayside watching the powerstation being blown up many yrs ago. I can't quite remember when but I was about 13-14. I would love to see a video of it being blown up again.

By Tony Hockey
On 14.01.2011

My parents took a house in Gorleston-on-Sea every summer for three weeks from 1956 - 1975. I was just three years old when South Denes opened and was fascinated by the "chimney with a top on" which became for our family the 'Blackpool Tower' of the East coast! During the summer holiday of 1974 we all went as a family on a guided tour having grown out of the funfair rides!! It features in some early photos but I went back in 1988 and took some closer photos still blissfully unaware of its demise. Total disbelief in 1998 when I went again and it wasn't there!

By Tim Marlow
On 03.10.2012

As a nine year old, in 1960, I remember laying in my bunk bed in a caravan on the South Denes site and trying to count the bricks in the walls of the power station. I fell to sleep every night 'counting bricks'.

By Christine Donnelly
On 19.04.2013

From here in Australia I now look back in fondness working at the Site in 1959, employed for Mitchell Engineering who were the boiler contractors. Hard to believe it's gone. Working outside in December with the wind howling off the North Sea was not the ideal place to be. Used to cross the river by ferry every day at the Birds Eye fish cannery.

By Grahme Brownley
On 20.01.2014

I believe all the construction photographs were taken by the studio of Ford Jenkins of Lowestoft. A video of the demolition of the turbine hall and chimney is on YouTube. Search with "South Denes."

By Paul Godfrey
On 04.06.2014

Does anybody know what the two concrete structures just offshore are for?

I've spent 45 years wondering ever since my holidays in Gt Yarmouth in the 60's and 70's.

By Chris Mcintyre
On 27.04.2015

I think the offshore structures were "the outfall" where the water that had been drawn in from the river as cooling water was then discharged. 

By Ian Mcgee
On 02.07.2015

Hi Chris,

So I wasn't the only one then. I wondered what they were too back in the 60s. As a child, I found them frightening. My father thought they were effluent/waste conduits but Ian's explanation seems more plausible. At least they're still there like a couple of derelict old sentinels, providing a landmark and reminding me as to where I used to play as a kid on the beach on (the now) non-existent south-denes caravan site

By nigel
On 25.09.2016

I can confirm that the two structures were indeed the inlet and outlet (outfall) for the stations Main Cooling Water requirements.  As an apprentice I recall accompanying the Engineering Manager in a small boat, where we were tasked with changing the gas bottles (which ran the warning beacons) on top of both structures.

By Gary Scott
On 04.02.2018

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