Demolition job that changed skyline of Sheffield forever

The Tinsley Towers dominated the view in streets in nearby areas
The Tinsley Towers dominated the view in streets in nearby areas

They were once a landmark that dominated Sheffield’s skyline, a welcome sign that you were almost home as you passed them on the M1, and then suddenly the Tinsley Towers were gone.

Yesterday marked 10 years since the twin power station cooling towers next to the M1 viaduct near Meadowhall were demolished in a night-time spectacle event that attracted huge crowds of people.

The towers being demolished 10 years ago

The towers being demolished 10 years ago

Many, like me, gathered with keen anticipation on the open-air top of the Meadowhall car park to watch the explosion take place on August 24, 2008.

The north tower was only partially demolished on the night, though, and the work had to be finished manually.

The towers were once an integral part of people’s lives, an ever-present sight for residents living in the Tinsley area, as one of the photographs here clearly shows.

They were also part of an extensive industrial landscape that has now drastically changed.

The community heritage team at Heeley City Farm are inviting people to come and share their memories about the Tinsley Towers on the 10-year anniversary of the demolition tomorrow and to think about what is next for the area in which they once stood.

The event will take place at Tinsley Community Centre on Ingfield Avenue, S9 1WZ, tomorrow, Friday, August 24, running from 6pm to 8pm.

The event is part of the Tinsley Time and Travel Project, which has been funded through the Heritage Lottery Fund, using part of the proceeds from the National Lottery.

The project is based around nine key heritage milestones in Tinsley’s past, all located within the project area.

The local community has been involved in every stage of the project.

Tinsley Junior School pupils helped to explore the remains of medieval Tinsley Manor that lay under their school buildings and adults have been involved in researching historic records of the area.

Laura Alston, the Tinsley Time and Travel community heritage project officer, said: “Each milestone covers a different historical period in Tinsley, from the Bronze Age to the modern day, and they all link to travel: exploring how and why people have travelled to Tinsley for thousands of years.

“This memory-sharing event is all about milestone nine of the project: the coming of the M1 and the changes it brought to the area.”

The Towers were the final remains of the Blackburn Meadows Power Station.

There had been a power station based at the site since 1921.

When the old power station closed, the towers could not be easily demolished for safety reasons and so they were left standing, said Laura.

Over the 20th and first part of the 21st century the towers became an iconic landmark for Sheffield and the Tinsley area, dominating the skyline next to the M1 Viaduct and provoking lots of opinions.

They featured in 1984 nuclear disaster docu-drama Threads, which is being shown on Wednesday at the Showroom as part of a series celebrating South Yorkshire writer Barry Hines.

Not everyone loved them and many were glad to see them gone but many Sheffielders miss them and argued that they should remain.

Artists came up with their own ideas of how the towers could be transformed and a campaign ran to save them from destruction.

But the need to strengthen the motorway viaduct a decade ago meant that the towers’ owners, energy company EON, finally decided on demolition.

Laura said: “This event will reflect on that day, the thoughts, feelings and opinions people had about the structures and to think about what will come next.

“There is a new biomass power station on the site and artwork has been commissioned for the site.

“This memory share will give the residents a chance to talk and reflect on this iconic piece of Tinsley’s history. “

This event is free and open to all and there will be free refreshments available, said Laura.