THOUSANDS lined the streets to cheer the Olympic Torch as it made its progress through towns and cities in the UK, including Hastings.
But few people know about the secret role that Dungeness B power station played in order to keep the iconic flame burning.
The London 2012 Olympic Torch was designed to celebrate the best of British design, engineering and manufacturing talent.
Crucially, it had to be able to meet the unique challenges the British weather would throw at it during its ‘summer’ trip to Stratford.
So, to make sure it was up to the challenge, the developers brought it to Dungeness to carry out secret trials – road-testing it away from the public eye.
Staff at the station have only now been allowed to speak about their role in the tests.
“There was a rigorous test programme to ensure that the prototype Olympic torch was fit for purpose,” said Alison Prentice, who is based at Dungeness B.
“This included trials in the BMW wind tunnel to check the performance in snow, wind, rain and sub-zero conditions.”
“The developers also needed to test the torch outside in realistic weather conditions at a secure location – so Dungeness B was the perfect venue.”
The tests were carried out on a windy November day last year.
“Our blustery conditions were very different from the tests in the wind tunnel, where the wind is constant and only comes from one direction,” said Alison.
“Here they were able to test it in real conditions, where the weather and wind kept changing. Also, from a practical point of view, this was the first time anyone had actually run with the torch outdoors.”
“The torch testing team said they really enjoyed their time with us at Dungeness B. They were very pleased with both the conditions here and the way the torch performed out in the open.”
The torch project team brought two prototype torches along to the test, so they could also test out the all important ‘kiss’ - when the torches meet as one torch bearer passes the flame onto the next torch during its marathon journey.
“It was really exciting to be involved in the tests and to be part of the work to develop the Olympic torch,” said Martin Pearson, Dungeness B Station director.
“As well as carrying out the tests, the torch team were able to talk to fellow engineers about the torch design and manufacturing processes.”