Radical ESSEX




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Walk 4, Tibury: Tilbury Green Power Plant

Tilbury Green Power Plant is the most recent addition to the Port of Tilbury’s industrial hubs. Unlike the other sites we visit, this one is geared towards producing energy – generating electricity from waste wood, or what is known in the industry as ‘renewable biomass’. As we arrive for our visit, we see strange objects in the station forecourt; a huge plastic pillow, distended with 10 cubic metres of distilled water and a sealed-off bunker, full of dust, inspected by staff through cameras, remotely.

We start in the ‘waste-wood yard’; trucks offload volumes of shuttering, planks, bedsteads and cupboards. These are pummelled into wood chips in the adjacent ‘turbine room’ – a process that happens only by night. ‘It’s deafening when the machines turn on here, the whole building shakes’, our tour guide tells us. By day, a mechanical jig is ‘top-loading’ tonnes of dust into an HGV truck.

Ian – the site manager here– explains the surges and falls of the national grid. Christmas is the quietest time for power stations, and then, in busier times of emergency, ‘lonely stations’ that otherwise stand empty for much of the year are activated. Although you wouldn’t know it as a consumer; all electricity sent through the national grid, whether its generated from coal, gas or renewable sources, being co-mingled into a single charge.

Blog: Eloise Hawser
Images: Frances Christie, Hayley Dixon, and Eloise Hawser

This event was presented as part of 800,000 tonnes: Waste Management and Recycling in Essex, a programme of displays, site tours, and discussions that took place to map waste in Essex past and present by artist Eloise Hawser, who wrote the above text. 800,000 tonnes was supported by a National Lottery Grant from Arts Council England.

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Radical Essex is a project re-examining the county in relation to radicalism in thought, lifestyle, politics and architecture. A programme of events will take place across Essex throughout 2016 and 2017, shedding light on the vibrant, pioneering thinking of the late 19th and 20th centuries. The project will celebrate the crucial role Essex has played in the history of British Modernism and its utopian ideologies under the themes ‘The Modernist County’ and ‘Arcadia for All’.

The Radical Essex site is designed by Fraser Muggeridge studio and Alex Rich, developed by Twelve.

Radical Essex is led by Focal Point Gallery in collaboration with Visit Essex and Firstsite. Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England it forms part of the country wide Cultural Destinations programme, a partnership with VisitEngland, supporting arts organisations to work with the tourism sector to deliver projects that maximise the impact culture has on local economies.

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If you are a business or arts organisation interested to be involved in the project or learn more information, please contact us here

We gratefully acknowledge the support of our project partners: