The very shape of this oval room hints at its exclusiveness. The red terracotta tiled floor is equally classy. Finally, the natural stone instrument panels and control consoles spell it out clearly: not only has this control room harnessed complicated technology, it has ritualised it. In actual fact, it used to control one of the oldest power stations in Europe. Although decommissioned in 1992, it has survived thanks to the commitment of the people of Plessa for whom the power station was a familiar place of work for decades. The most striking feature of this industrial monument is its two chimneys, each over 100 metres high. Visitors can take a guided tour in their shadow, following the route taken by the lignite from delivery through to input in the commercial power supply. The trail leads from the external bunker where the pit coal used to be broken up, through the boiler house and the turbine table complete with original turbine, and on to the control room and the transformer area, where power was fed into the grid. The former administrative wing now provides space for alternating exhibitions and events.
Plessa power station was built in an era in which lignite extraction in Lusatia was enjoying significant technological advances. In 1924 the world’s first overburden conveyor bridge came into service in the “Agnes” open-cast mine. The increased yield of lignite also went on to be converted into electricity. In 1927, barely a year after the foundation stone was laid, Plessa power station came on stream. In subsequent years it was continually expanded, but never fundamentally modernised, meaning that many of the original machines and technical installations have been preserved. Instead of electricity, these are now generating an abundance of creative energy. For instance, the former electric workshop is earmarked to house a fruit brandy distillery in future. A brewery, glassmaker and other local industries are expected to follow. Cultural and musical events are already turning the power station into a modern attraction.