HALF a century ago – less than a lifetime, after all – this was still the future. Longannet Power Station in Fife opened at the beginning of the 1970s when coal was still king and Scotland measured itself by its industrial might and engineering muscle.

But now that the 20th-century is disappearing fast behind us, how do we look at these monuments of another time? Can we still admire the scale and ambition? Or has climate change forever altered how we view them?

When it came fully online in 1973, Longannet was the largest coal-fired station in Europe. By the time it closed just four years ago in 2016 it was still the third-largest.

Construction began in the mid-1960s, with the first electricity being generated in 1970. Over the decades that followed it burned through 177 million tonnes of coal, employed thousands of men and women and powered an average of two million homes.

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Designed by architects Robert Matthew, Johnson Marshall and Partners (who also gave us Stirling University and the Falkirk Wheel among many other prestigious projects), Longannet, seen here in 2015, was built on reclaimed land on the banks of the River Forth where it soon dominated the landscape. The power station’s chimney itself rose 183 metres (600ft) into the sky.

Inside, four 600 megawatt turbine generators could process 40 tonnes of coal an hour. The plant drew cooling water from the River Forth at a rate of 327,000 cubic metres per hour.

Longannet was only meant to be operational for 25 years, but it carried on producing power well into the 21st century. By the time it closed, of course, the climate had changed, politically and scientifically.

The dirty fact of it is Longannet was once named as the 21st most polluting power plant in the European Union. As climate concerns increased, fossil fuel became more and more problematic.

The power plant finally closed for good in March 2016, the last of Scotland’s coal power stations to go.

Demolition is ongoing yet much of the structure still remains intact and the chimney stack still stands, a reminder of another world, another Scotland, one already fading in the rearview mirror.

What to watch: Henry Cooper’s 1968 film Forth – Powerhouse for Industry includes footage of Longannet’s construction. The film is available online at the National Library of Scotland’s Moving Image archive. Visit movingimage.nls.uk