Locals and beach-goers had no idea what it was when they first saw the UFO-shaped object that had just been unearthed from the banks on Burry Port beach. All they knew was that it hadn’t been there the week before.
After a run of stormy weather and coastal erosion on the banks of the beach, in 2018, a mysterious disc-like object with pillars and a warning sign was unearthed.
It was revealed that the object was actually the base of a wind turbine that was left behind from the 1980s and 1990s.
During the time, there were actually three experimental wind turbines on the banks of the Burry Port coast neighbouring the Carmarthen Bay Power Station.
In its heyday the Carmarthen Bay Power Station employed around 500 workers and its three towering chimneys became synonymous with the skyline of the Burry Port estuary.
Over the years, the power station which opened in 1947, became one of the biggest employers in the area and employed thousands of workers, so many that it seems half of the town at some point worked there or knew someone who did.
Friends were made, relationships were built and a number of workers met their spouses at the site.
David Denningham, 70, who still lives in Burry Port worked at the station during the 1970s.
He said: “It’s probably the best job I’ve ever had – I have really fond memories of working there and made friends that I still speak with today.”
“A lot of others have sadly died, lots of them with chest problems – we were working near asbestos and didn’t know what we know today about it so I suppose I was lucky.”
From when the power was turned on in 1953, power was generated at the plant until 1984.
For seven years, the towering building which had once been such an important part of the community lay derelict and abandoned until workers were welcomed back to watch its demolition in 1991.
But during those seven years, the site and acres surrounding it had a new function – as an experimental wind farm.
With more interest and discussions surrounding renewable energy, in the early 1980s, the CEGB (Central Electricity Generating Board) proposed constructing a number of wind machines of varying shapes to do more research and find out more about wind power.
A 1981 press release about the project said: “Subject to the statutory consent and consultation procedures, we propose to have a megawatt machine in operation until 1985.
“The stage beyond that, we hope, will be to extend the installation off the site to form a cluster of perhaps 10 machines. The small wind generator we plan to build at Carmarthen Bay Power Station, Dyfed, will give us preliminary operating experience and research information.”
“Although the prospects for achieving technical success and making wind energy economical look encouraging, the big unknown factor is whether clusters of large generators will be environmentally acceptable to the public. This is one thing we aim to find out in our program.”
Three experimental turbines were erected on the coastal banks, the first was switched on and tested in November 1982.
From then until the end of the 1980s, research was conducted on some of the first wind turbines in the UK.
In prime position and towering over the scenic coast, locals did not consider the machines as an eyesore but were rather fascinated by them.
Delyth Rogers, 65 remembers when they were built.
She said: “Wind turbines were in their infancy then so I think people were too curious to hate them. I think they were some of the first to be tested in the UK so it was a bit of history for the area – I can’t say I would want them there now though.”
During the Carmarthen Bay Wind Test Program, one of the turbines was nicknamed “the mushroom” because of its appearance – although this design never took off as it was not cost effective.
In 1986, the Musgrove Vertical Axis Wind Turbine was erected in Burry Port and experts said the development was vital – and has been incorporated into today’s subsequent wind power operations.
After serving its purpose the farm was demolished in the early 1990s and the banks which it once stood on have now weathered away due to coastal erosion.
The land surrounding the Carmarthen Bay Power Station is now part of the Millennial Coastal Path and nothing remains except the base of the turbines, a plaque commemorating the station’s workers and the posts of the old entrance gates.