AFTER 42 years of powering the nation, Didcot A Power Station will shut down today.

At 2.30pm the switch will be flicked, bringing an end to electricity production for the National Grid.

RWE npower staff will gather in the station’s canteen to watch a live feed from the control room to see the final desynchronisation.

And, from 6.30pm, to mark the final day, lasers will be used to project a message of thanks on to the station, saying ‘Powering the nation 1970-2013’.

Didcot A manager Phil Noake said: “Didcot A first started operations in 1970, and has been an unsung hero of our economy ever since, helping to keep the lights on and Britain working 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week for more than 40 years.

“This is a time to reflect on the fantastic team we have had and to thank the local community for supporting us during that time.

“This closure, driven by government policy, reflects the changing shape of power generation in the UK.”

Didcot Town Council leader Margaret Davies said: “The cooling towers are so large, and the power station has been such a big part of our lives that it’s hard to believe it is not going to be powering away any more.

“The cooling towers have been a reassuring sight, a friendly giant, but the closure paves the way for when the cooling towers will be demolished and vanish completely from the skyline.”

Kelly Green, 32, of Greater Leys, made national news after appearing in the Oxford Mail for having the cooling towers tattooed on her shin.

She said: “It is a big day, whatever everyone outside Didcot thinks, and a sad time. The real change will come when they knock them down.

“I think that’s when people will really see the difference and it will start to sink in. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens after that and what the future holds.”

Paul Bodsworth, 41, who puts unusual pictures of Didcot on a Facebook page said: “It may be difficult for people not from the town to understand. The truth is, it is something for the people here.

“There isn’t a lot in Didcot and the towers are something that distinguish it from other places.Yes, coal is outdated and we probably will be better off without them spewing off into the sky but there is a sense of loss.”

RWE npower announced the closure of the 2,000MW station in September.

After opting out of a European Union Large Combustion Plant Directive in 2008, it was required to stop generating power after 20,000 hours of operation.

About 210 staff work at Didcot A, while about 80 staff work at the gas-fired Didcot B station, which was built in 1997 and will continue to operate.

Some staff at Didcot A will remain for a decommissioning process lasting about nine months, while others will take redundancy or move to other power stations.

Decomissioning will begin at the end of the month.

Vendel Segesdy, a construction engineer at Didcot A since 1969, who lives in Didcot, said: “It’s a sad day for everyone.

“There’s going to be a big gathering of staff and former staff at Didcot Conservative Club next Thursday at 2pm. It will probably go on all night.”