… though the environment won’t, Cockenzie on the Firth of Forth was the UK’s least carbon efficient power station, pulverising local and latterly Russian coal, then blowing the dust into a furnace with preheated air to create the steam that drove the turbine that generated electricity for Scotland and, via overheads lines, the north east of England.
Cockenzie ceased production in March 2013, since then there has been talk of conversion to an art gallery, turning the site into a terminal for 200 cruise liners a year, or creating an energy park. The main plant is already being demolished and on September 26th the chimneys come down. There is a charity raffle to be the one who pushes the button.
They never meant anything to me until my sister moved to a village just inland and I’d use the twin chimneys to gauge how much A1 was left until we arrived at her house.
You can see them from across the Firth from my friend Karl’s house. Edinburgh is placed on the sea-line by Arthur’s Seat - Cockenzie, Port Seton, Prestonpans, Tranent and my sister’s house are placed by these two.
In the last couple of days I’ve cycled both ways along the coast just beyond as far as the eye can see, then turned and used them as an incentive and range finder for the ride home.
There is a different demolition narrative for those for whom the towers mean work, wages and the last pins in a social map that linked geology, industry, labour, community and power. Now the chimneys are to be demolished they have transcended use and become beautiful, some people here have begun to mourn them and I know that, like the Tinsley cooling towers outside Sheffield, whenever I look into the space they filled, I’ll see them, an imagined marker still in my reading of the Firth landscape.