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Cooling Towers, Lister Drive, site of
site of Lister Drive Power Station, Liverpool
Cooling Towers, Lister Drive, site of
associated engineer
LG Mouchel & Partners
date  1924
UK era  Modern  |  category  Power Generation  |  reference  SJ383920
photo  Mouchel archive
At Lister Drive Power Station in Liverpool, L.G. Mouchel & Partners provided the UK with its first natural draught hyperbolic-curved reinforced concrete cooling towers — introducing the distinctive shape with which we are now so familiar.
Cooling towers are an adjunct of power stations. They allow the disbursement of heat generated in the process of making power. Before the 1920s, there were made of timber and had a life expectancy of 15 years. Steel cooling towers were tried but these had an even shorter life expectancy because of corrosion.
The early 20th century had brought big developments in reinforced concrete and it must have seemed like a natural choice for this kind of structure. The hyperbolic-curve shaped natural draught cooling tower was developed in concrete by a director of the Dutch State Mines, F.K.T. van Iterson, with civil engineer G. Kuypers, both working in The Netherlands.
For the building of the Lister Drive power station in Liverpool, L.G. Mouchel & Partners senior engineer T.J. Guerritte pursuaded the City Engineers to consider the new material, as pioneered by van Iterson and Kuypers. Guerritte was successful and the firm was appointed to design the towers, eventually providing 12 for the site. L.G. Mouchel & Partners went on to dominate the market for the design of such towers for the next 40 years. In that time, they built more than 350 — 157 in the UK alone.
The Lister Drive towers were 39.6m high and 30.5m in diameter at the base — pretty big at the time but small by more recent standards. Later cooling towers by Mouchel have reached 152m high. The hyperbolic shape is efficient since it allows the steel reinforcing bars in the concrete to be straight, though sloping. At Lister Drive, the sides were 368mm thick at the base, decreasing progressively to 165mm at the top. Holes at ground level allowed the passage of air — hence the description 'natural draught'.
The succes of the towers at Lister Drive led to appointment for L.G. Mouchel & Partners for towers at Wolverhampton Power Station and Hams Hall Power Station in Birmingham in 1925, and Coventry Power Station in 1927. The Lister Drive cooling towers remained in service for 40 years.
Research: FBA
"Mouchel: A Century of Achievement" published by Mouchel, 1997
"Back to the Future of the Hyperbolic Concrete Tower"
by H. Damjakobs and N. Tummers, in Natural Draught Cooling Towers
eds Mungen and Wittek, Taylor & Francis Group, London 2004

Cooling Towers, Lister Drive, site of