Memories
998
129
3
Published:
Edgar Külaots is now a 71-year-old retiree. These are his memories from the time he worked at the Tartu’s central boiler house. Edgar started working there in 1981, the boiler house itself started operating already in 1967. It was during the Soviet era and life was quite different from nowadays.
The city used to operate several smaller boiler houses, but since the population grew each year there was a demand for a bigger boiler house. Initially the heating was done with fuel oil, but soon the switch was made to gas. According to the first drafts the boiler house required 47 workers to operate: three men on watch and 15 operators per shift. 
Edgar used to do several jobs there. He also recalls that sometimes even the prisoners were used as the workforce to heat the boilers since it was a hard and unpleasant job. Later on the boiler house was modernized and there was less need for workers. 
In order to truly capture the essence of the period the series were photographed with a large format camera onto 4x5 sheet film.
The boiler house was built in the middle of the city, onto the bank of river Emajõgi. The chimney is 90m tall and it became the city’s most visible object.

The keys to many of the heating units of the city’s buildings were also kept at the boiler house, to ensure access during emergencies.
The boiler house stopped operating in 2013 as the city’s new heating systems are different from the old ones and more modern. The buildings will be torn down soon and everything that remains are the memories…