IT was exactly 25 years ago this week that two towering chimneys that used to stand proud over Marchwood’s Power Station – a landmark that dominated the local skyline by Southampton Water for over 40 years – were sent crashing to the ground.

On Feb 2, 1991 high explosives successfully ripped through the base of the first 2,200-tonne reinforced concrete chimney at Marchwood to reduce the 425ft stack to nothing more than rubble within seconds of sirens sounding and warning flares shooting high above Southampton Water.

The meticulously planned operation was carried out by demolition experts Brown and Mason, who had been slowly dismantling buildings on the 400-acre site at the time.

Residents who lived within the safety exclusion zone – which equalled four times the height of the stacks – were bussed to the village hall early in the morning and given a cooked breakfast before they watched the massive blast.

The no-go area also included parts of Southampton Water, where shipping was put on hold.

Its 35-year-old twin, which stood just yards away at the former PowerGen’s site at Marchwood Power Station, suffered exactly the same fate just seven day later, on February 9, when hundreds of onlookers weathered the Arctic conditions to watch the last of the two giants fall to earth.

According to the Echo reports of the time a puff of smoke belched out from the top of Marchwood power station’s remaining stack before a resounding “crack” signalled the beginning of the end for the towering monster.

At first the movement was imperceptible, then the reinforced concrete chimney started to topple ever faster.

A split second later there was a dull thud and a massive dust cloud rose from beyond the pylons and transformers separating the remains of the station from the roadway.

Building work on the power station, under the auspices of the British Electricity Authority, began in 1952.

Estimates put the cost of the 480 megawatt plant at £30 million – just part of £900 million the authority was spending on providing power around the country in the post war years.

Its eight turbines started to produce power in 1955 and four years later the station was fully on line.

It celebrated its silver anniversary in 1980 and closed a couple of years later after running at a quarter of its potential.

Originally designed to burn oil or coal – brought by ships up the River Test – a late decision saw fuel oil pumped direct from Fawley as its power source.