Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 145,005 pages of information and 230,628 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Deptford Generating Station

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1889. London Electric Supply Corporation, Deptford Station.
Remarkably, Manchester's Museum of Science and Industry recovered and utilised a pair of the generating station's cast iron columns
Detail of columns
1889. 30th March.
1895. Compound engines by Plenty and Son.
1927. Extensions to the Deptford Power Station.

1887 Designed by Sebastian Ziani de Ferranti for the London Electric Supply Corporation, located to the west of Deptford Creek on a site once used by the East India Company. The scale of construction was unprecedented; the design pioneered the use of high voltage (10kV) AC current; capacity was 800kW.

The station was intended to supply central London on a large scale but the need to lay cables across the streets of numerous local authorities provoked a Board of Trade Inquiry which also highlighted concerns about the wisdom of concentrating so much generating capacity at a single site.

1889 A steam pipe accident stimulated the engineer-in-chief, S. Z. de Ferranti, to develop the idea of a multiple pipe to avoid the use of single brazed copper pipes, on which he secured patent rights[1].

1891 Station opened but the company lost customers due to early teething troubles and the station was opened on a smaller scale than envisaged. However it was still the world's largest power station at the time.

1957 The original building, known as Deptford East, remained in use until 1957.

Two of the generating station's large cast iron columns were saved for preservation by Ferranti and stored at their Hollinwood works. When Ferranti vacated the works, they donated the columns to Manchester's Museum of Science and Industry (see photos). These two columns now reach up only as far as where the rails for the overhead crane would have been fixed, and there would have been an even higher section supporting the roof. [2]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Engineer 1891
  2. [1] 'The North Western Museum of Science and Industry, Some Reminiscences' by Richard L. Hills, M.A., D.I.C., Ph.D., C.I.Mech.E., F.M.A., Dip.Ed.