Brooding majesty of one of Yorkshire’s oldest villages

PIC: Simon Hulme
PIC: Simon Hulme
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The Sun sets behind Drax Power Station and tangerine-tinged steam rises into a late November sky.

The coal-fired power station opened in 1974 but was extended during the 1980s, by which time it was the largest in Western Europe.

However, it was planned as early as 1964, when the General Electricity Generating Board sought permission to build the station on the banks of the River Ouse between Selby and Goole.The plans, as outlined in that year, did not go down very well with members of Selby Rural Council, who welcomed the rate revenue the council would receive but had misgivings about the impact on the village of Drax and the loss of 400 acres of farmland.

When it was under construction, a new “village” was created on the edge of Drax, which itself had a population of only 250, but it was anticipated some 2,000 construction workers would be needed. They were housed in special cabins, with running water, an air conditioned canteen and sound-proof tiles on the floor to dampen the noise of their boots.

In 1975, villagers in nearby Barlow complained over plans to extend an ash tip which took waste from the power station.

The village itself has a long and interesting history, not to mention a connection with Leeds.

In May 1932, the Vicar of Drax, the Rev R Lyne, pointed out a charter penned in 1207 stated Drax “gave Leeds its first step in commercial progress”, in that it was raised to the status of a ‘burgh’ by Maurice Paynel (or Paganel), who was a member of the Drax Castle family.

In May 1933, masons working on Drax Church discovered some walled up windows dating from 1170. Going back even further, there used to be an abbey at Drax, founded around 1130 but which was torn down in 1535.

The name Drax is thought to be derived from Old English ‘Dreora’ and ‘Ac’, which means ‘animals oak’, inferring a timbred patch of dry land “haunted by beasts, amid the marshes”, according to one source.

TECHNICAL DETAILS: Nikon D3s camera, 12-24mm lens, exposure 250th sec at f5.6, 
iso 400.

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