Feb 182010
 

Developing brownfield sites is generally held to be a “good” thing (at least GCSE students are programmed to think so), however at times it’s worth considering that buildings such as power stations represent a substantial part of our industrial heritage. Hams Hall was a series of three coal-fired power stations at Lea Marston in Warwickshire, constructed between 1928 and 1968. Demolition of the last of the stations took place under cover of darkness in 1993

Hams Hall power station

photo Wikipedia transferred from Geograph. Copyright Tim Marshall

The only building that survives is the control room of Hams Hall substation. The exterior is vaguely reminiscent of a mosque, though guarded with razor wire and liberal coatings of anti-climb paint. Indeed on my first visit, late on a stormy November night, the place was less than welcoming, and I failed to get inside.

Hams Hall substation

Thanks to information from some helpful locals, I was able to return for a closer look. I knew what to expect; a circular control room with an extraordinary glass “flower” roof.

Hams Hall control room

I planned to make a 360 degree image to show the room properly. The floor is covered in glass and it’s extremely dark inside, meaning that the exposures had to be lit with a torch. Here’s the finished panorama on 360 Cities:

Hams Hall substation control room in England

I’ve published the image as a full screen, high quality panorama on a personal page as well, since 360 Cities is getting a little cluttered . Click the image below:

Hams Hall control room

Decrepit old buildings can hide all kinds of fascinating secrets. I don’t believe this building is protected in any way, although it is very well sealed up. Maybe it should be listed? Either way, it’s an important part of the local built environment, and a pretty special place. Perhaps we should get students to think more critically about the value of certain brownfield sites? The substation would make a really great local studies classroom, or some other kind of publicly-accessible building, where the unique roof and control panels could be protected from further damage.

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