We have been very lucky to meet many of the individuals who have played a part in Didcot A from the outset. Many of the employees at Didcot A have worked there for their entire careers, and there is a close network of retired employees who meet regularly. Some of these individuals have been very supportive and have shared their memories, stories and photographs for this project.
Last week I visited Mr Havard, the last station manager at Oxford power station. His career and records span the history of electricity generation, from the first provision of power on a small scale at Oxford power station to the 2,000 MW generation of Didcot A. Mr Havard joined Oxford power station in 1954, rising to the position of Station Manager and overseeing a transition from coal to oil fuelled power generation. In 1968, with the opening of Didcot A, Oxford power station closed and Mr Havard moved to the new ‘super-station’.
Mr Havard has offered us files of records, photographs and newspaper cuttings to use for this project. There are photocopies of papers going back to the opening of the station when it could only power up to 15,000 electric lights. As demand rapidly increased and technology improved there were major changes in the machinery used at the plant in it’s first 20 years, and in the 1920’s the power station underwent a major extension. Little was changed until after the war and in the post-war years the power station struggled to meet demand and power cuts were frequent.
Mr Havard says he had to prioritise power supply for hospitals and schools and at times would have to cut off supply to parts of the city. He was ‘thrilled’ when he heard about plans for a new station at Didcot, seeing that this would overcome many of the difficulties in working with an ageing and inefficient system.
Oxford Power station being shut down for the last time in March 1969.