Sharing memories of the Tinsley Towers ten years after Sheffield landmark demolished

Tinsley Towers being demolished in 2008
Tinsley Towers being demolished in 2008

They stood for decades but within a matter of seconds they were gone.

Ten years to the day since the Tinsley Towers were demolished those who live near the site they stood on gathered to share their memories.

The Tinsley Towers.

The Tinsley Towers.

The cooling towers, which were originally part of a coal fired power station, were reduced to rubble at 3am on August 24, 2008.

And while they might no longer be there to act as a signpost that Sheffielders heading up or down the M1 motorway were home, the emotional attachment remains.

Around 20 people, including people who live in Tinsley or whose relatives worked on the site, attended Tinsley Community Centre to share their memories.

Among those was Josie Green, who has lived in Tinsley all her life.

She said: “The towers were actually very dirty, very noisy and, at certain times,  because of what they were, there was a lot smoke in the area.

“I don’t think it was until  the viaduct was built that they became a symbol of Tinsley really.”

Hundreds of people gathered on the open-air car park of Meadowhall shopping centre and on surrounding streets to see the explosion ten years ago.

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 and a checkpoint to motorists on the M1.

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

Ms Green said: “Tinsley was very agricultural 100 years ago and then it became industrial and then it all went and those two chimneys were a memento of our industrial heritage but now we have nothing to show for it.”

Pam Armstrong, from Handsworth, made her way to Tinsley to see the towers demolished.

She said there were hundreds of people on St Lawrence Road who turned out to see the demolition.

Ms Armstrong added: “It was very sad when they pulled them down - it was a sort of funny feeling.

“Over the years, no matter where you were in Sheffield you could see the towers and I think that feeling that you were nearly home meant a lot to people.

“I remember I was only on holiday in Torquay and when I said I was from Sheffield a couple said ‘that’s where the two towers are’.

“They were iconic.”

The event was held by the community heritage team at Heeley City Farm and plans on what could replace the towers was also discussed.

Attendees were told that Sheffield Council was working with artist Alex Chinneck on his Onwards and Upwards design and trying to secure funding for the project.

Ms Green said: “Most people didn’t want them to come down and I think it’s because they became such a symbol because of the motorway.”

Ms Armstrong said she was concerned by the design of the Onwards and Upwards project, which would feature several chimneys scattered along the canal, next to where the infamous towers stood.

She added: “I am not against progress but to me there are an insult because the chimneys are all broken and that’s almost a symbol that our industries have broken.”

The event was held as 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.

Laura Alston, project officer, said: “I have worked in Tinsley for about four years so I know how much the towers meant to those who live here.

“I think that they were an icon. They were so striking and they were a symbol of quite a recent past and something that everyone related to.

“People didn’t really like the power station but the towers became such an icon and that’s probably because of the motorway and viaduct.”

She added: “It’s been a brilliant event and I am so pleased that so many people came.”