Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Manchester Square Power Station

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of London

1886 A power station was built for the Great Western Railway beside the tracks between Paddington and Westbourne Park stations; the designer was J. E. H. Gordon assisted by C. A Holbrow and Frank Bailey, who became resident engineer. It was operated by the Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Co until operations were taken over by the Metropolitan Electric Supply Co in 1887.

After the Metropolitan Company had gained rights to supply electricity in the area, it was necessary to build its own power station, which it did at Manchester Square.

1889 Designed by Electric Construction Co for the Metropolitan Electric Supply Co

Ten Willans and Robinson 200 HP engines drove Thomas Parker Co alternators at 350 HP. Babcock and Wilcox boilers. The engines were non-condensing, exhausting to a cast iron pipe inside the main chimney. Trunk mains connected the station with Sardinia Street Power Station and Rathbone Place Power Station, to allow load sharing.

However, high levels of vibration led to an injunction being served on the station. A large sum was spent on improvements to the foundations, but without satisfaction.

To address the problem, Parsons turbine generators were installed, the first example being ordered in April 1894, followed by orders for two more immediately after the first went into service. These were rated at 350 kW, 50 Hz, and ran at 3000 rpm. The turbines and alternators were by no means trouble-free. The company then ordered a pair of 500-kW units in its Amberley-road Station, and these were followed by other turbine-generators in the Sardinia-street and Willesden stations of the company. [1]

The early problems and their often drastic solutions were described in detail in letters to 'The Engineer' from Charles Anthony Holbrow and William Ashbee Tritton in 1934 [2]. The text of these letters is reproduced in 'The Early Days of the Power Station Industry' by R. H. Parsons, 1939.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. [1] The Engineer, 19 Jan 1934
  2. [2] 2 February 1934, p.126
  • [3] the early days of the power station industry