Construction on the cooling towers began in the Sixties
"The towers were mentioned in Bill Bryson's books and have been admired by many.
"Of course there are also those who see them as a blot on the Oxfordshire landscape."
So said Jim Haggan, station manager at Didcot Power Station, summing up the divide in public opinion on one of Oxfordshire's most famous landmarks.
But it has provided a vital role in the county's economy ever since it began generating electricity.
Commercial operation at Didcot began in September 1970
The power station's six 375ft (114.3m) high cooling towers have been a dominant feature of the skyline since September 1970 when Didcot A's boilers began burning coal.
It has since been converted to a dual-fired station, with three of its four boilers also able to burn natural gas.
All four also have the ability to burn biomass fuels such as sawdust and woodchip.
In the 1990s a gas fired station, Didcot B, was added to the complex.
Together, Didcot A and B generate enough electricity to meet the needs of two million people.
"It has put millions of pounds into the economy of Oxfordshire and provided employment for thousands of people over the past 40 years," Mr Haggan said.
"What everyone should recognise is that the electricity produced at Didcot has been vital for the UK economy and the 40th birthday is a good opportunity to salute this marvellous workhorse and all those who have been part of its story."
Despite the celebrations the station approaches the end of an era.
Didcot A is to close by December 2015 under the European Union Large Combustion Plant Directive legislation.
By then it will have been half a century since work first began on this sometimes controversial Oxfordshire landmark...
The boiler house was part of the massive construction project
1964 Building starts for the Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB). Joe Haynes is the station superintendent
1970 Didcot A begins commercial operation
1977 Norman Holland becomes station manager
1980 Coal Plant conveyor changes
1983 Commissioning of Radley scheme
A large number of jobs were created in the area when the station was built
1985 Miners' strike
1989 Jim Twomey becomes station manager
1990 After CEGB privatisation ownership passes to National Power. Precipitator upgrade to lower dust emissions
1994 Construction started on Didcot B, a gas fired station. Bob Pritchard becomes station manager
1995 Rospa Presidents Award
1996 AMPS installed for plant control. Conversion of three units to run on gas (dual firing capability). Dave Bramley becomes station manager
1997 Didcot B power station begins commercial operation
The landmark has inspired paintings, such as these works by Matt Coburn
1999 Kevin Nix takes over as temporary station manager, succeeded by Dave Churton
2000 Ownership passes to Innogy. Investors In People Award
2001 John Rainford becomes station manager
2002 BBOWT Sutton Courtenay Environment Education Centre opens. Ownership passes to Npower (UK) after acquisition of Innogy by RWE
2003 Voted Britain's third worst eyesore
2005 Overfired air method introduced to lower Nitrous Oxide emissions. STUK Ash Beneficiation Plant installed
The current staff at the power station will celebrate its 40th anniversary
2006 Renewable biomass co-firing facility opens. Greenpeace volunteers invade station and chain themselves to equipment
2007 Business in the Community 'Big Tick' Award for education programme. Listed on the WWF's 'Dirty Thirty' report.
2008 Large Combustion Plant Directive (LCPD) is introduced. Didcot A opts out - will operate for up to 20,000 hours but must close at end of 2015
2009 Protestors climb chimney and stay there for two days
2010 Investors In People Bronze Award. Jim Haggan becomes station manager
2015 Didcot A set to close