Fiddlers Ferry power station

SSE plc Chadderton Power Station Ince Power Station
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Fiddlers Ferry Power Station
Fiddlers Ferry Power Station From Marsh Lane.jpg
Fiddlers Ferry Power Station
Viewed from Marsh Lane in February 2020
Coordinates53°22′19″N 2°41′13″W / 53.372°N 2.687°W / 53.372; -2.687Coordinates: 53°22′19″N 2°41′13″W / 53.372°N 2.687°W / 53.372; -2.687
StatusIn Decommissioning Process
Construction began1964[1]
Commission date1971
Decommission date31 March 2020
Owner(s)SSE plc 2004-present
Operator(s)Central Electricity Generating Board
Edison Mission Energy
AEP Energy Services Ltd
SSE plc
Employees158 (2019)
Thermal power station
Primary fuelCoal
Secondary fuelBiomass
Chimneys1- 600ft
Cooling towers8- 374ft
Power generation
Units operational4 x 500MW 1971-2019
3 x 500MW 2019-2020
Nameplate capacity1,989 MW-1971-2019
1,510 MW-2019-2020
External links
CommonsRelated media on Commons

grid reference SJ544863

Fiddlers Ferry Power Station is a decommissioned coal fired power station located in Warrington, Cheshire, North-West England. Opened in 1971, the station had a generating capacity of 1,989 megawatts and took water from the River Mersey. After privatisation in 1990 the station was operated by various companies, and from 2004 by SSE plc. The power station closed on 31 March 2020.

With its eight 114-metre (374 ft) high cooling towers and 200-metre (660 ft) high chimney the station is a prominent local landmark and can be seen from as far away as the Peak District and the Pennines.[2]


Fiddlers Ferry power station was built by the Cleveland Bridge Company and came into full operation in 1973.[3] There are eight cooling towers arranged in two groups of four located to the north and south of the main building. There is a single chimney located to the east of the main building.[4] One of the station's cooling towers collapsed in high winds on 13 January 1984 and was rebuilt. When it was built, the station mainly burned coal mined in the South Yorkshire Coalfield and transported across the Pennines on the Manchester-Sheffield-Wath electric railway.[5] Later the coal was imported.

Between 2006 and 2008 Fiddlers Ferry was fitted with Flue Gas Desulphurisation (FGD) plant to reduce the emissions of sulphur by 94%, meeting the European Large Combustion Plant Directive.[6][7] In 2010, the station was being considered for the installation of selective catalytic reduction (SCR) equipment. This would reduce the station's emissions of nitrogen oxides, to meet the requirements of the Industrial Emissions (Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control) Directive. The SCR technology would replace the Separated Over Fire Air (SOFA) technology which was used in the station.[8] The SCR equipment was not fitted due to uncertainty over the future of the plant.[9]

The station was built by the CEGB but was transferred to Powergen PLC after privatisation of the UK's electricity industry in 1990. Fiddlers Ferry, along with Ferrybridge Power Station in Yorkshire, was then sold to Edison Mission Energy in 1999. They were then sold on to AEP Energy Services Ltd in 2001, and both were sold again in July 2004 to Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) for £136 million.

In operation

The station generated electricity using four 500 MW generating sets and consumed 195 million litres of water daily from the River Mersey.[10][2] At full capacity, 16,000 tonnes of coal were burned each day.[2] It also burned biofuels together with the coal. It used separated overfire air technology to control Nitrogen Oxide emissions and flue gas desulphurisation to reduce the emission of sulphur.[11]

The station was supplied with coal via a freight only rail line between Warrington and Widnes running along the banks of the River Mersey. Rail facilities include an east-facing junction on the mainline controlled by a signal box, two hopper approach tracks, gross-weight and tare-weight weighbridges, coal track hoppers, a fly ash siding, a gypsum loading plant and a control building.[12]


On 18 November 2015 Amber Rudd the Minister in charge of the Department of Energy and Climate Change proposed that the UK's remaining coal-fired power stations will be shut by 2025 with their use restricted by 2023. SSE announced in February 2016 that it intended to close three of the four generating units at the plant by 1 April 2016. However, it secured a 12-month contract in April 2016 and they stayed open.[13] In March 2017, the power station secured a further short term contract to provide electricity until September 2018. At this point, the power station employed 160 people, down from 213 the previous year.[14] In February 2018, the station had agreements to supply electricity until September 2019.[15] One unit closed in 2019, reducing capacity to 1.51 GW.[16]

In June 2019, SSE announced that the power station would be permanently turned off and decommissioned by 31 March 2020.[17][18] On 31 March 2020, the plant was desynchronized from the National Grid, ending 47 years of electricity generation. Demolition of the station is due to begin in 2020 and take up to 7 years. The land upon which it sits will be redeveloped, with Warrington Council stating it had designated the land as an employment site.[19] In September 2020 the operator SSE was fined £2 million by OFGEM, the energy regulator. OFGEM concluded that SSE did not inform energy traders that it had secured a new contract to remain open in March 2016, and had risked undermining confidence in the energy market.[20]

See also


  1. ^ "Fiddlers Ferry Power Station Railway". Retrieved 17 May 2020.
  2. ^ a b c "Fiddlers Ferry Power Station" (PDF). p. 2. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 September 2006. Retrieved 25 February 2009.
  3. ^ "A – Z list of Bridges Built by Cleveland Bridge Company". Newcastle University. Archived from the original on 27 May 2003. Retrieved 18 April 2011.
  4. ^ Sheail, John (1991). Power in Trust. Oxford: Clarendon Press. p. 214. ISBN 0-19-854673-4.
  5. ^ Clough, David N. (August 1983). "The road to Fiddler's Ferry". Rail Enthusiast. EMAP National Publications. pp. 14, 23–24. ISSN 0262-561X. OCLC 49957965.
  6. ^ "North Midland Construction". Archived from the original on 18 October 2008.
  7. ^ Fineren, Daniel (6 January 2009). "SSE says Fiddler's Ferry upgrade complete". Reuters. Retrieved 31 January 2011.
  8. ^
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  12. ^ Jacobs, Gerald (1990). London Midland Region Track Diagrams. Exeter: Quail. pp. 38B. ISBN 0900609745.
  13. ^ BBC News: SSE to close most units at a coal-fired power station (accessed 6 February 2016)
  14. ^ "Fiddlers Ferry workers given 'security' and 'stability' after power station secures contract at auction". Warrington Guardian. 28 February 2017. Retrieved 18 March 2020.
  15. ^
  16. ^ "SSE closes unit at Fiddler's Ferry coal plant". Utility Week. Retrieved 18 March 2020.
  17. ^ Jillian Ambrose. "UK to be left with five coal power stations after latest closure | Environment". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 March 2020.
  18. ^ "SSE announces proposed closure of Fiddler's Ferry coal-fired power station". SSE. Retrieved 19 November 2019.
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