Tinsley Cooling Towers half an hour before demolition
So that’s it. Tinsley Cooling Towers were blown up tonight at 3am, and I went along to watch, along with what felt like most of the rest of South Yorkshire. We had a brilliant vantage point on Tyler Street and you can see the car park at Meadowhall was packed and there were also people on all the surrounding hills. There must have been thousands of people who went to watch. The cooling towers were lit up for the occasion and the lighting gave them a slightly ethereal quality. Sorry for the poor photo quality but these were taken on a phone camera, but there will undoubtedly be many more elsewhere on the internet, and I’m sure a YouTube video.
We arrived at about 2am and the place was already packed, and the detonation happened on schedule at 3am. The ‘south tower’ first followed by the ‘north tower’. It was the north tower though that was the strangest experience. As it came down it looked as though it was falling towards Tinsley Viaduct on the M1, but then as the dust cleared you could still see part of the structure. Many people thought it was a part that had fallen on to the viaduct and then you realised the truth. It hadn’t all collapsed and a huge chunk of it still sticks up above the viaduct. Whoever was responsible for the detonation must have been cursing. As things stand at the moment it seems as though the M1 will be shut for some time, whilst they work out what to do with the remaining part of the cooling tower and ensure that Tinsley Viaduct is safe.
It was great to go and see it. There is something exciting about seeing a structure being blown up even though it all happens incredibly quickly. What was odd though was seeing it start to come down before you heard an explosion.
Tinsley Cooling Towers are (almost) gone
It took ages to leave afterwards as the roads were packed – about an hour by car from Meadowhall to the city centre – and we passed the time listening to Radio Sheffield. That was perhaps the more surreal experience. Apart from everyone drawing (at times slightly tasteless) parallels with the collapse of the twin towers of the World Trade Centre, everyone had an opinion. This combined with the number of people saying that the failed collapse of the ‘north tower’ just showed how they didn’t want to be demolished and shouldn’t have been, did make you wonder how everyone in South Yorkshire had suddenly become a demolition expert. In fact there was one moment when Radio Sheffield became a complete parody of BBC local radio when the person in the studio asked the person at Tinsley what was happening and his answer was “I have no idea. I have tried chasing someone from E.ON and someone from the Highways Agency across the car park to find out, but they won’t tell me anything.” The programme just turned in to people who knew nothing interviewing more people who knew nothing, and then cutting to people on the phone who… knew nothing but had lots of theories. Mind you, given the amount of cider that was being consumed near where I was stood to watch the demolition and the number of people who had clearly come there straight from a night out in town, it shouldn’t be a huge surprise that not everyone had rational thought (including those stood near me who blamed the council for the failed demolition, even though they had nothing to do with it). Mind you, someone at Radio Sheffield does have a sense of humour with them leading in to the demolition with the song “Final Countdown” and then following it up with “Without You”. Alas we didn’t get any Ms Dynamite. When the failed demolition of one tower became apparent we were then treated to “I’m Still Standing”.
A good night that was worth going to see. I’m sad the cooling towers have gone, but we will soon get used to it. For the time being though there does seem to be a huge gap now by the Tinsley Viaduct that should have been filled (that’s if you ignore the bit of cooling tower that’s still there).
UPDATE: The rest of the cooling tower collapsed a few hours later. There is also a brilliant film of it on the BBC website.