Video | Giant crane used to demolish Windscale chimney

21 August 2018 | By Neil Gerrard

A giant crane has been constructed as part of work to pull down the Windscale Pile One chimney at Sellafield.

The 152m crane is the tallest structure ever built at Sellafield and is just six metres shorter than Blackpool Tower.

Work will begin this autumn to remove lower chunks of the chimney, cut out using diamond wire saws. Because buildings containing nuclear material surround the stack, traditional demolition techniques such as explosives cannot be used.

The Windscale Pile One chimney has dominated the Sellafield skyline for nearly 70 years.

Its filtration system was a last-minute addition, placed unusually at its summit.

Despite being mockingly referred to as ‘Cockroft’s Folly’, after its designer Sir John Cockroft, the chimney's filters captured an estimated 95% of the radioactive dust created by a fire at the Winsdscale Pile One reactor in 1957.

Now, the chimney is a decommissioning project. The square-shaped diffuser at the top will be the first piece to be removed.

George Frost from Sellafield Ltd, said: "We’re making visible progress on this demolition, and it won’t be long now until we start to see the diffuser removed.

"The chimney is one of the iconic legacies of Sellafield’s past, so the skyline change as the chimney is removed will be significant.

"This has been a challenging piece of work, so everyone is pleased to see work progressing. This is thanks not only to the Sellafield and supply chain teams involved now, but over more than a generation."


The chimneys should have had Listed building status as reminder of the accident and are used a land mark for Sailors and MOTORISTS. Shame on Cumbria council.

John Dawson, 1 March 2019

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