North Tees Power Station

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North Tees A, B & C Power Stations
North tees power station.jpg
North Tees C Power Station in the 1980s
North Tees Power Station is located in County Durham
North Tees Power Station
Location of North Tees A, B & C Power Stations in County Durham
Country England
Location Billingham
Coordinates 54°35′13″N 1°15′47″W / 54.587°N 1.263°W / 54.587; -1.263Coordinates: 54°35′13″N 1°15′47″W / 54.587°N 1.263°W / 54.587; -1.263
Status Decommissioned and demolished
Construction began 1921
Commission date 1921
Decommission date 1983
Operator(s) North Eastern Electric Supply Company
British Electricity Authority
Central Electricity Authority
Central Electricity Generating Board
Imperial Chemical Industries
Thermal power station
Primary fuel Coal
Power generation
Units operational A station:
Two Metropolitan-Vickers 20 MW
B station:
Two Parsons and one Metropolitan Vickers
C station:
Two 60 MW
Nameplate capacity 1921: 40 MW
1983: 263 MW
grid reference NZ477210

North Tees Power Station refers to a series of three coal-fired power stations on the River Tees at Billingham in County Durham. Overall, they operated from 1921 until 1983, and the C station, the last on the site, was demolished in 1987. Billingham Biomass Power Station is to be built on their site.

North Tees A[edit]


In 1917, the Newcastle upon Tyne Electric Supply Company (NESCo) took control of the principal electrical undertakings for a large area in south County Durham and North Yorkshire. To supply the newly acquired area, NESCo built the North Tees Power Station on the banks of the River Tees at Billingham.[1] The construction of the station began in 1917 and was completed for opening in 1921.[2]

Design and specification[edit]

The station was designed by the engineering consultants Merz & McLellan. The station used two Metropolitan-Vickers 20,000 kilowatt (kW) turbo-alternators to generate electricity, giving it a total generating capacity of 40,000 kW.[3] The Babcock & Wilcox boilers which were used to provide the steam to the turbines in the station, were famous in engineering circles at the time. In 1918 the boilers became the first in the world to use steam at up to 450 psi, and pioneered the practice of reheating it during expansion in the turbine plant.[4][5] This development resulted in a further increase in the efficiency of power generation, and an appreciable decrease in the quantity of coal consumed per unit of electricity generated.[1] In 1922, W.S. Monroe of the Chicago-based consulting firm Sargent & Lundy described North Tees Power Station as "the most advanced power station in the world".[3]

The station was connected by NESCo's high voltage transmission lines to their power stations on the River Tyne, for successful running "in parallel".[1] When the UK's national grid distribution system was brought into use in 1932, the station was one of a small number of stations in the region to be converted from the 40 hertz (Hz) frequency used by the North Eastern grid system to the 50 Hz frequency used by the national system.[6] However, the nearby ICI plant, which operated its own power station, required the North Tees A station's power as back-up, but the power needed to be supplied at 40 Hz, and so the A station retained three frequency changers to supply back-up power for many years after the change over, until the 1950s, when new electrical equipment needed to be ordered at the ICI plant.[7]


The A station closed in 1959, after a number of years being used as a reserve station for high demand. Following closure, Metropolitan-Vickers took the rotors from the stations and tested them to destruction, to find out why the older machines were more efficient than the new ones.[7]

North Tees B[edit]

The B station was commissioned in 1934, and used pulverised fuel firing, an advanced technology at the time the station was built. The station generated electricity using two Parsons and one Metropolitan-Vickers turbines, each driving two alternators in tandem. It was demolished in the late 1960s.[7]

North Tees C[edit]


North Tees C Station was proposed in 1945, by the original two stations' operators, NESCo. However, the scheme was taken over by the British Electricity Authority when NESCo was nationalised in 1948.[1][8] The station was built by the Cleveland Bridge Company and completed in 1949.[9]

Design and specification[edit]

It used two 60,000 kilowatt (kW) turbo-alternators, giving it a total generating capacity of 120 MW.[8] The station had originally been planned to use four such machines, two planned for commissioning in 1950, and the others in 1952, however only two were eventually installed.[1] The station's exterior was designed by Giles Gilbert Scott, who also designed Battersea Power Station.[10] The station was one of the first in the world to use hydrogen cooled generators.[7] It was also the first in England to use 66,000 V air blast switchgear.[1]


In the 1980s the station was operated by Imperial Chemical Industries, who used it to provide electricity for its factories in Billingham.[10] The station was decommissioned on 31 October 1983, with a generating capacity of 236 MW.[11] In 1987, the site was acquired by Able UK and the station demolished so they could redevelop the site as Billingham Reach Industrial Estate.[10][12]

Future of site[edit]

The station's site is currently part of Billingham Reach Industrial Estate, an international wharf owned by Able UK Ltd.[10] On 15 October 2009, planning permission was granted for the Billingham Biomass Power Station, which is to be built on the site of the former coal-fired power stations.[13]


  1. ^ a b c d e f North-Eastern Electric Supply Company Limited 1889–1948. Newcastle upon Tyne: T.M Grierson Ltd. March 1948. 
  2. ^ "North Eastern Electricity Board". The National Archives. Retrieved 5 November 2008. 
  3. ^ a b Parke Hughes, Thomas (1993). Networks of Power. JHU Press. pp. 457–458. ISBN 0-8018-4614-5. Retrieved 8 February 2009. 
  4. ^ Dummelow, John. "Metropolitan-Vickers Electrical Co 1899–1949 by John Dummelow: 1909–1919". Retrieved 23 December 2010. 
  5. ^ Parsons, R.H. (1939). "X". The Early Days of the Power Station Industry. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 183. 
  6. ^ Pears, Brian (23 February 2003). "Norfolk to Northumberland". Rootsweb. Retrieved 9 September 2009. 
  7. ^ a b c d Bate, David. "North Tees Power Station, Billingham Reach. 1967\r" (ASPX). Picture Stockton. Retrieved 23 December 2010. 
  8. ^ a b "ELECTRICITY (NORTH-EASTERN AREA)". Mr Shinwell. Retrieved 5 November 2008. 
  9. ^ "A – Z list of Bridges Built by Cleveland Bridge Company". Newcastle University. Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  10. ^ a b c d kjfitz (15 April 2007). "Former ICI Bellingham explosives plant and nuclear power plant". Retrieved 20 November 2008.  External link in |work= (help)
  11. ^ Shaw, Giles (16 January 1984). "Coal-fired Power Stations". Hansard. Retrieved 22 July 2009. 
  12. ^ Historic England. "NORTH TEES POWER STATION (602510)". PastScape. Retrieved 7 October 2013. 
  13. ^ "£200 million biomass plant wins planning approval". New Energy Focus. 16 October 2009. Retrieved 23 December 2010.