In 1880 Thomas Edison virtually initiated the public supply of electricity.  He obtained a simple patent in the USA covering components of a supply system – light bulbs, generators and auxiliary equipment.  He then formed the Edison Electric Illuminating Company and established the Pearl Street Generating Station in New York.





Manchester Electric Lighting Works



Manchester Electric Lighting Works




In London, pioneer efforts to supply the public with electricity followed rapidly.  Legislation was required to allow the laying down of mains supply cables along streets.  Accordingly, the Government set up a select Committee to consider the conditions under which private companies should be permitted to provide electricity.


Based on the Committee’s report the Electric Lighting Act was passed in 1882.  Unfortunately, one of the provisions of this Act proved a disincentive to private investment, only allowing 21 years operation before acquisition by municipalities and it was not until 1888 when a revised Act was passed, promising 42 years, that saw the rapid growth of the electricity supply industry.                                                                       


In 1891 the brilliant engineer John Hopkinson designed the Manchester Electric Lighting Works.  The installation comprised 4 generators producing 600 amps @ 400 volts.  He used four reciprocating steam engines, driving four dynamos through belts and pulleys. The layout and type of machinery is very similar to that evidenced at The Old Steam House.





Stockwell Generating Station, South London



Stockwell Generating Station – South London





At Stockwell generating station four large Edison-Hopkinson dynamos gave an output of 450 amps @ 500 volts.  This energy was used to drive locomotives on the City and South London tube between 1890 and 1923.  This set the pattern for future development.





Herstmonceux Electricity Generating Works Circa. 1900 - 1936   Links:



Introduction  |  Instructions  |  ISBN  |  Batteries  |  Boiler Room   |  Floor Plan  |  Ron Saunders


Industrial Revolution  |   Lime Park  |  Machinery  |  Map  |  Power House  |  Argus 1999


Public Supply  |  Roof Construction  |  Rural SupplySussex Express 1913  |  Conclusion


Archaeology South East   |   East Sussex CC  |  English HeritageSIAS  |  Sx Exp 1999




Herstmonceux Links Page


Wentworth House