Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Chelsea Electricity Supply Corporation

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1890. Engine and dynamo room.

1884 The Chelsea Electricity Supply Company sought permission to produce, store and supply electricity in parts of Chelsea[1]

1888 'A company has been formed, called the Chelsea Electricity Supply Company, for supplying the parish of Chelsea with the electric light by means of the accumulators of the Electrical Power Storage Company, and Parliament has confirmed the provisional order granted them by the Board of Trade. They are now busily engaged in erecting their central station and the various sub-stations where the accumulators are to be placed, from which the stored electricity will be led into the consumers' houses.' [2]

1889 At the enquiry into the future of the competing electricity systems in London, General Webber, managing director of the Chelsea Company, highlighted the problem of distribution and the danger of several companies competing to supply electricity in one small district. The Chelsea's chosen system was the DC system. The Anglo-American Brush Electric Light Corporation had installed a generator at Chelsea and the Electric Power and Storage Co had supplied batteries for 3 distributing stations; the batteries would be able to supply for 7 hours at full rate without recharging being necessary. Mr T. O. Callender, engineer of the company, had experience of laying hundreds of underground mains installations; he was very concerned about the possibility of 2 or 3 companies trying to lay mains in the same street [3].

The generating station was at Draycott Place, Chelsea (south east of Cadogan Square).

1890 February: Two additional battery sub-stations had been added since the system came on line in April 1889 and a fourth was being added. Current was supplied to users only from the batteries, thereby avoiding the fluctuations experienced in some other systems connected directly to the generators[4]

1890 Load variation illustrated in The Engineer for the Draycott Place and Clabon Mews stations[5]

1891 Parliament authorised the Chelsea, Belgrave and Cadogan Electric Supply Co to light parts of the parish of St Luke's, Chelsea[6]

1891 Generated electricity at Draycott Place, Sloane Square on the edge of the company's area; distributed the current by an unusual system which combined generation at high voltage (2kV) with d.c. distribution from several sub-stations where the voltage was reduced to 100V supported by accumulators[7]

The Electric Construction Co had supplied one of the first of its "continuous-current" transformers to the station[8].

1904 Construction of Manor Street Power Station started. It was demolished in 1928. Old photographs here [9], including photos showing the construction of the 175 ft chimney.

1912 Wrote off £1000 from the purchase of the Cadogan Electric Light Co[10]

1920 One of 9 London electricity supply companies who formed London Electricity Joint Committee (1920) in opposition to the schemes proposed by the Electricity Commissioners for London

1923 The Flood Street, Chelsea generating station and main transmission lines were acquired by the London Electricity Joint Committee[11].

Generating Station at Draycott Place (Cadogan Gardens)

Four Babcock and Wilcox boilers in the basement of house in Draycott Place. Three Brush vertical engines drove Brush-Victoria dynamos. The Brush engines were soon replaced by Willans engines. Each dynamo delivered 75A at 500V. They were connected in series to give the voltage required for charging the batteries. A separate engine-driven dynamo provided the excitation, and also provided for the station lighting. The engines exhausted to the chimney, but some of the exhaust steam passed through a feed heater.[12]

Flood Street Power Station

Built 1894, initially with two Willans-ECC DC generating sets.

By 1911 there were 14 Willans-ECC sets (2 x 80 kW, 4 x 150 kW, 6 x 200 kW, 2 x 420 kW), plus three 200 kW diesel-driven generators installed in 1911. Some sets generated at low voltage for the local network, while others generated at 1500 V for battery charging.

In 1922 the steam plant was shut down, and replaced by a number of motor-converter sets. The diesel sets were retained until 1928, when generating ceased.[13]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. London Gazette 25 November 1884
  2. Leeds Times - Saturday 24 November 1888
  3. The Times, Apr 16, 1889
  4. The Electrical Engineer, 21/02/1890
  5. The Engineer 1890/11/07
  6. The Times July 3, 1891
  7. The Times, Aug 19, 1891
  8. The Times, 28 August 1895
  9. [1] Chelsea Manor Street: The Alpha Place: electricity by Dave Walker, Local Studies Librarian for the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, June 8, 2017
  10. The Times Mar. 6, 1912
  11. The Times, Oct 16, 1928
  12. 'The Early Days of the Power Station Industry' by R. H. Parsons, 1939.
  13. 'The Early Days of the Power Station Industry' by R. H. Parsons, 1939.