IT HAS towered over the entrance to Southampton Water for more than half a century.

But the 650ft chimney at Fawley power station is due to blown up tomorrow in a controlled explosion that is likely to be heard for miles around.

Fifty years of history will come crashing down in a huge cloud of dust at around 7am.

Part of the B3053 Fawley Bypass will be closed from 4am and an exclusion zone enforced from 5.30am until shortly after the event.

As reported in the Daily Echo the power station is being demolished by Fawley Waterside Ltd to make way for a £1bn scheme that aims to create "one of the most beautiful small towns in England".

Over the past few days former residents have been returning to the area to catch a final glimpse of the chimney ahead of tomorrow's explosion.

Posting on social media one woman spoke of making a 200-mile pilgrimage to say goodbye to one of the buildings she remembers from her childhood. "Had to see it one last time," she said.

Another Facebook user added: "A three-hour drive to see it before it goes on Sunday."

A woman who posted a comment on October 23 said: "Her last week with us starts tomorrow. Going to miss her miss her deeply. It will never be the same without her being there to welcome me home."

Walkers and sailors have used the chimney as a navigation aid ever since the oil-fired power station was built in the late 1960s.

One of the recent contributors to the Fawley Power Station Facebook page said: "I ride all over the Forest and you can see it from as far away as Fordingbridge, showing you the way home.

"I will ride out on Sunday to see it come down. Will be a sad occasion."

Another rider added: "Shortly after moving to Calshot nearly 30 years ago I started to exercise a friend's horse. I asked 'What if I get lost'. She said 'Just head for the chimney'."

Fawley Waterside is urging sightseers to stay away from the area tomorrow "for health and safety reasons".

The consortium is planning to build around 1,500 homes on the 300-acre site, plus a raft of community facilities. Artist's impressions show a Venice-style development with ornate buildings lining both sides of a broad canal.

Outline planning applications have already been approved by New Forest District Council and the New Forest National Park Authority.