“We listened to the whistle like an anthem, stood with our heads bare”, the energy workers later said.
One of the first Norilsk residents recalled that a short signal was given every day at six in the morning – they woke up with it, like an alarm clock. It is interesting that the very first whistle for the thermal power plant was made by the townspeople themselves. Vladimir Lebedinsky recalled how it happened.
“One day, shortly before the thermal power plant launch, someone remembered: how can you launch the station without a beep? Indeed, they forgot about the beep. The author of these lines was called to the authorities. They explained to me that the whistle was urgently needed – such a powerful one that it could be heard far in the tundra.
I must say that I have never seen such beeps in my life. We were just desperate. Senior engineer Yury Libinzon went to the technical library and spent the whole day there. In the evening he returned with the Manual for Making and Tuning Instruments of a Brass Band… A small book, but it helped us out. The author, speaking about wind instruments, also devoted a few words to beeps. Yury himself did the calculations and soon produced drawings. He chose a low major tone of three notes. The voice at the beep was supposed to be solemn. A few days later, a huge structure of three pipes, weighing two tons, was already loaded into a car.
A funny adventure happened with the beep. On the drawings they wrote: “Three-tone beep” meaning that the sound of the beep would be composed of three tones or three notes. A boiler inspector accidentally walked into the workshop where it was being assembled. Knowing that the assembly was equipped with a beam crane with a lifting capacity of only two tons, and having read the name “three-ton” on the drawing, the inspector became worried: boiler inspection rules were being violated! And he immediately banned work. It took intervention from the designers until the misunderstanding was resolved.
Few people know how many anxious minutes we experienced on December 13, 1942, the day the first turbine was launched, when our whistle was supposed to sound. The whistle of the Norilsk thermal power plant was heard both by the fishermen on lake Melkoye, 40 kilometers from Norilsk, and by the river workers working 50 kilometers away on lake Pyasino. And on that day, when a mighty and solemn sound echoed over the tundra, this labor victory of the Norilsk builders became more significant and exciting”.
In the History Spot’s previous publication, we talked about how the city’s first residents saw the future of Norilsk.
Text: Svetlana Ferapontova, Photo: Nornickel Polar Branch archive