Rugeley originally had two power stations, both coal powered, and located on the banks of the River Trent.
First opened in 1961, “Rugeley A” was the first of the two stations, followed by commissioning of “Rugeley B” in 1970.
Costing some £30 million, construction of Rugeley A began in 1956. Constructed as the first joint venture between the Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB) and the National Coal Board, Rugeley A took coal directly from the neighbouring Lee Hall colliery, via a conveyer belt. Rugeley A boasted the world’ first large dry cooling tower, with no further dry towers constructed in the UK due to the costs of operation. Another distinguishing feature of Rugeley A was that it was the first power station in Britain to be managed from a central control room.
Construction of Rugeley B power station began in 1965, and became operational from 1970. When fully operational, the B station generated enough energy to power some 500,000 homes. When both A and B stations were in service, some 850 people were employed to operate these units.
After privatisation of the CEGB, ownership of both A and B stations passed to National Power in the early 1990s, which coincided with the closure of Lee Hall colliery in 1991, after which coal used to power the stations arrived via rail. On an annual basis, some 1.6 million tonnes of coal per annum was used to power both stations.
For economic reasons, a decision was subsequently taken by its new owner to close Rugeley A, and decommissioning of its generating units was completed in 1995, followed by demolition of its towers. Over its lifetime, it is estimated that Rugeley A burnt 41,869.969 tonnes of coal.
Improvements were then made to Rugeley B to enable compliance with environmental legislation. However, ongoing electricity generation was also eventually deemed uneconomic, due to falling market prices and rising carbon costs, and a decision was taken to close the station. There had been plans to convert the power station to run on biomass fuel, but these were never implemented.
Rugeley B ceased to operate in June 2016, resulting in the end of an era, and the overall loss of some 150 jobs, although 30 employees were retained to manage decommissioning activities. Decommissioning continues, to enable the remaining towers to be demolished. Complete demolition of the site is expected in 2021.
The expectation is that the site will eventually become a mixed-use development, with plans in place, if approved and funded, to create up to 2,300 new homes, a primary school, community facilities, and new employment opportunities.