Happy 80th birthday Morwellham!
Karl Jones, Hydro Asset Manager, is responsible for the day-to-day running of South West Water's two hydroelectric power stations.
Having read Terry Miller's blog, On the road, claiming that he had the best job in South West Water, I beg to differ! My name is Karl and I've worked for South West Water for 12 years and I have the best job in South West Water.
I am responsible for the day-to-day running of two hydroelectric power stations; yes, you did read that right, South West Water owns two power stations as well as the many supplementary power generation sites linked to operations. And not just any old power stations, Mary Tavy power station happens to be England's largest hydroelectric power station in daily use and Morwellham happens to be 80 years old this year and combined, they'll generate an average of 9,000,000kW/h of green energy per year.
Still largely original, these beautiful machines have stood the test of time and are currently maintained by a small, in-house team of engineers. However, this would be nothing if the water supplying the turbines failed to flow, so I have to mention the leats team, who maintain the many miles of watercourses across Dartmoor, supplying the turbines with this precious resource. This unique team can often be found in the middle of nowhere, in the foulest of weather, up to their knees in water, repairing these essential assets, to keep the water flowing.
However I digress; this is about the "old ladies" at Morwellham and the fact that they're still producing green energy after 80 years of service.
Morwellham Power Station is situated in a most picturesque spot on the banks of the river Tamar. The turbine hall, built in 1934, houses two Turgo Impulse Turbines (numbers 3963/4), operating at a speed of 428rpm and generating a total of 640KW/h for the National Grid.
The water that drives these turbines enters the building via a 3'6" diameter, ductile iron pipe, fed from a one million gallon reservoir, situated 200ft above the power house. The reservoir is fed from the Tavistock Canal, which was constructed over 200 years ago. It provided a means of transporting the many tons of minerals mined in the Tavistock area to Morwellham Quay, where it was shipped all over the world. Indeed at one point, a third of the world's copper was shipped from Morwellham.
However, as the mining industry declined, the canal fell into disrepair and it was almost 100 years before the West Devon Power and Mining Co. Ltd. decided to use this waterway to convey water to this brand new power station, where it still performs the same task today, some 80 years on, for South West Water.
Morwellham and Mary Tavy Power Stations, represent a significant part of South West Water's renewable power generation portfolio, helping to offset water treatment costs for the benefit of our customers, as well as playing a vital role in off-setting carbon emissions. Promoting South West Water, particularly the environmental benefits, is another vital role carried out by the Hydro team. Considered by many as South West Water's premier site for visitors, Mary Tavy Power Station opened its doors to over 500 members of the public last year, including school parties, renewable energy groups and professional organisations. Morwellham Power Station's newly refurbished visitor centre, which is open all year round, enables visitors from the Morwellham Quay's visitor attraction to see our work. This very popular and much loved station is visited by well over 3,000 people each year.
So, Terry Miller; still think you've got the best job in South West Water? I think not!