Westfield Development Centre

Built in 1961, the British Gas Westfield Development Centre was a gasification plant to produce gas from coal – up until 1974 it was producing 20% of Scotland’s gas.

The plant used four Lurgi gasifiers – the idea was to secure gas supplies for when North Sea gas ran out, which would have been a brilliant theory if almost all the coal mines had not also been shut down. Nevertheless, after spending about £1bn in today’s terms, the process was pronounced a resounding success in 1991, and shut down in 1992.

A more modern test gasification plant was also built, as was a 120MW Combined Cycle Gas Turbine built in 1992 by Global Energy, who bought the site.

The plant was bought by Scottish & Southern Energy in 2003 who operated the power station (using piped-in gas) until March 2011.

First, I had a look at the boiler house – I’m a little unclear on the exact process, but I think this was to produce “process heat” (i.e. lots of steam) for the gasification process, and it contains three coal-fired boilers.

Up at the top, a coal conveyor:

The roof, with views of the chimney:

Next the gasification plant:

Reached via the steep conveyors:

The whole place is ankle-deep in pigeon poo – ironically right next door is a cutting-edge biomass power station which runs on chicken poo. If they popped over with some wheelbarrows, there’s a good few kW in here.

The top of the gasification building, where hoppers feed in the coal:

To a lab:

And the control room:

Down and out for some outisde views:

This is the boiler house from the outside, the open space in front is where the gas turbine was. It was a GE frame-6 one which is portable:

Back inside, and various misc bits and pieces:

All images:

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