The chimney at La Collette Power Station has some of the best views of Jersey. I was able to arrange a visit to take photos from the very top earlier this week. Many thanks to Jersey Electricity for granting access and for the amazing tour. It took a few months to get permission and wait for the perfect weather forecast, but this photo opportunity was definitely worth the effort.
Throughout this blog post are large panoramic images which you may download and keep, however some may be too large to open on mobile devices. All are released as Public Domain, and there are no copyright restrictions on how they may be used.
Panorama 1: Port of Jersey
I received permission to go to the top of the chimney back in February. Each Monday we had to check the weather forecast and wind speeds and decide if it was worth trying yet. We have had plenty of sun this year but winds must be calm before anyone can go up the chimney for safety reasons. This week the weather was just right.
When I arrived at the lobby of the JEC generation plant the first thing I noticed was that they had some fantastic photos already framed and hanging on the walls. There is a company photo club and they have some great shots from inside the plant.
After signing some paperwork I met up with Alan, who would be my guide for the morning. We went over the safety gear and he explained how we would make our way to the top from inside the chimney. I got a hard hat and bright yellow jacket and followed Alan through an absolute maze of giant equipment inside the plant to a little side door at the back. Through that door and we were at the base of the chimney, looking all the way up along the internal pipes. I didn’t have my camera ready yet but I managed a grainy shot with my mobile.
I had no expectation of a luxury elevator ride up, but the process was surprisingly long and challenging. I had a big camera bag with two bodies and a half-dozen lenses, plus extra layers of clothing and a safety harness. The harness is a web of straps that you step into and pull tight around your torso, with a heavy-duty attachment point at your chest. To start going up you connect a safety rope to your harness and it ratchets up as you go, so if you fall it locks and prevents you from dropping any further.
You climb one long ladder to a small platform, turn to the next ladder and go up, and then disconnect from the first safety rope and connect to the next one at every second platform. Repeat several more times (it’s a long, long way up) until you start to see some daylight coming through the vents near the top. There is a wider platform and yet another ladder with a tiny hatch at the top.
Panorama 2: Havre des Pas and Greve d’Azette
Despite the great heights I felt very safe the whole time. Being inside the outer chimney walls for most of the climb helps, but there was not much extra room as you go and I kept bumping my elbows on the safety cages around me. I know I am not the fittest person in Jersey but I exercise every day and walk a lot and this was absolutely exhausting. You have to be very deliberate in your movements and it wears you down more quickly than if you were just climbing stairs in a tall building.
A tight squeeze through the hatch at the top of the cement outer wall and we were treated to our first view outside. I don’t mind heights and there is a very sturdy hand rail so I started taking photos straight away.
Because we were still on the lower level platform we had some shade and a light breeze to help cool off from the climb. And the view was just spectacular. I had not thought to ask how long we would be up there so I started snapping away with the camera, taking hundreds of photos. After about 30 minutes Alan said “So, do you want to go to the very top?”
Yes please! But this time we were climbing a ladder out in the open. There was a different connector for the harness, this time it slotted into a track along the ladder and worked on the same ratcheting principle as you went up. Pull the connector up as you climb and it goes with you. Stop or try to go down and it locks. At this point we are very high up and I got that sweaty hands feeling, so I just looked up to the very top hatch and kept going.
Panorama 3: Green Street to Havre des Pas
Panorama 4: La Collette Industrial Area
All the way up now, and it’s sunny and beautiful. The incinerator below is running and the exhaust is coming out one of the stacks a few feet away, but you can hardly tell which one. There is no odour at all. There is a low humming sound and if you listen carefully there are faint tinkling sounds from small particles of rust falling on the wide rim surrounding the top platform. I had to look down at the shadows of the chimney exhaust tips for the shimmering mirage effect to determine which one the exhaust was coming from.
The older diesel generator exhausts are caked with soot on the inside and they are very easy to spot when operating (you can probably see that from Guernsey), but I am glad to see how the new energy from waste system has improved things. Below a steady stream of lorries filled with rubbish feed the incinerator and up top it comes out moments later with barely a whisper.
At this point I was slowing down with the photos, taking my time and observing people going about their day below in the sunshine. Alan came over for a chat and we talked about some of the German WW2 bunkers below, and he pointed out some good fishing spots. No hurry at all.
From the top level you can see over the top of Noirmont Point to the water beyond. I took another set of photos of Saint Aubin’s Bay for a second panorama and watched the boats going in and out of the harbour. Another set looking south with the incinerator (spot the two-and-a-half rubbish lorries at bottom centre, the result of a bug in the panorama software).
Panorama 5: Saint Aubin’s Bay and Elizabeth Castle
Panorama 6: Incinerator and Saint Aubin’s Bay
Below are more points of interest and the last panorama showing most of Saint Helier. You are welcome to save any images you want and use them for whatever you like, no need to contact me for permission. If you need a release for commercial use just get in touch using the contact form on my home page, it’s no bother. The full text of the CC0 Public Domain license is linked from the footer of any page on this website.
When I first contacted Jersey Electricity, I told them that I knew they could not let everyone who wanted to take photos from the chimney to do so. I explained that mine would be free to download so others would not need to. It is a great vantage point but trust me, it is not easy going up there and I’m not 100% sure I would do it again (Okay, maybe 99%).
Panorama 7: South Saint Helier
That’s about it for this blog post but once again I have to say huge thanks to both Alans at Jersey Electricity for helping me do this, and for making sure I was safe the whole time. Everyone I met at the plant was first class and they were very generous with their time.
There isn’t really another location like this in Jersey but if you have a great vantage point for panoramas and want me to come do photos please get in touch. It has to be somewhere I can access safely and I prefer to release the photos with no copyright restrictions.
Happy Easter weekend and enjoy this beautiful island we call home.