The Development of Electric Power in East Lancashire

The table below gives a brief chronology of the development of electric power with particular reference to East Lancashire. It was compiled for a booklet about the history of Padiham Power Station, to commemorate the end of production in 1993, bringing to an end the generation of electric power in the area.

A Chronology of Electric Power, particularly in East Lancashire


Volta discovers the electric cell using copper and zinc electrodes.


Humphry Davy notes the arc light effect between carbon pieces.


A.M.Ampere establishes the relationship between the strength of a magnetic field and the current produced.


24 November demonstration of electromagnetic induction by Michael Faraday to the Royal Society. He discovers that electricity can be generated by moving a magnet through a coil of wire.


Leclanche cell or dry battery discovered. Principal of the self exciting generator established.


Armature design evolves to allow continuous electricity generation using steam engines.


From this date the arc light starts being used for illumination in theatres, railway stations, shops etc., particularly in France.


In November a 12HP Siemen's patent engine was brought for demonstration in Burnley by Mr.Provis of Manchester. It lit three lights of 8000 candle power which illuminated the cricket field where a game of football was played under the lights. Lead acid battery demonstrated and widely adopted during the following ten years.


Edison and Swan independently invent the incandescent light.


First public supply of electricity in Godalming.


Electric Lighting Act, allows local autorities to compulsorily purchase after 21 years.


Grosvenor Gallery, later the London Electricity Supply Corp., starts supplying esurplus electricity to customers.


Parsons patents the steam turbine, with a turbo generator operating at 18,000 rpm working in the same year.


Electric Lighting Act, extends period before compusory purchase possible to 42 years. Parsons installs his first turbo-alternator set at the Forth Banks Power Station. Operated at 4,800 rpm, capacity 75kW. One business already light by electricity in Burnley. Hapton streets illuminated by electricity from August. Joseph F. Simpson, a local man, who was an electrician with Edison & Co. in Manchester, installed a dynamo in his family's Perseverance Mills. It was a modified Kapp machine, driven by a 6HP steam engine which also powered the winding, taping and sizing machinery. The firm already supplied gas to the village, but extending gas lighting in the streets was considered too expensive. Instead seven 50 candle power electric lights were erected. Three were over the centre of Bridge Street where previous gas lights had only been of 18 candle power. Others were proposed for side streets, the Conservative Club and the mill's warehouse. Swan's incandescent lights, with enamelled iron reflectors, were used, and they were light from dusk until 9-45.


Deptford Power Station opened. Designed by Ferranti, it was the first AC station, with four 10,000HP steam engines driving alternators working at 10,000 volts. There were also two 1,250 HP engines driving 5,000 volt alternators.


Condensing fitted to steam turbine which dramatically improves efficiency.


26 August. Burnley's 200 kW Power station commences public supply. The official opening was in September nine months after the 43 kW station in Nelson opened.


18 February. Blackburn's Jubilee Street Power Station opens.


Cross Committee recommends the setting up of private power companies.


Parsons makes the first tandem-cylinder turbines - turbo alternators generating 1,000kW each - for the German town of Elberfeld.


9 November. Accrington's Power Station opens.


25 September. Colne's Power Station opens.


August. Lancashire Electric Power Company open their Radcliffe Power Station.


Electric Lighting Act, allows compulsory purchase of land for power stations.


Transmission line installed between Acc rington and Rawtenstall, each of those power staions providing half of Haslingden's needs. The two concerns work together, varying the % of the supply as operating conditions at the stations change.


Electricity (Supply) Act. Commissioners set up for "promoting, regulating and supervising the supply of electricity." Given no compulsory powers.


October. Blackburn East (Whitebirk) Power Station opens.


23 May. Inquiry comes out in favour of L.E.P.'s proposal to build Padiham 'A'. 25 July. Padiham 'A', formal consent granted for 12,000 kW station to be built by Lancashire Electric Power Company. L.E.P.Co.'s Chief Engineer and Manager was C.D.Taite.


Little progress with main transmission lines. In Burnley 2 miles of 33000volt laid between Burnley and Rose Grove. Nothing done in Accrington on the Blackburn to Burnley link, but an 11000volt line contemplated to the new LEP station at Padiham. Mar 31, by this date two 6000kW turbo alternator sets had been ordered for Padiham. The sidings had almost been completed and work had commenced on the foundations.


Electricity (Supply) Act. Central Electricity Board established to control the output of the best and most efficient stations and to set up a grid. Frequencies to be standardised and local authorities supplied from the grid. Encourages companies to supply rural districts. On Mar 31, at Padiham all the buildings had been roofed, both turbo alternators had been tested at the works are were being delivered and erected, the first two boilers were erected and being bricked in, the swithchgear was progressing, the dam across the river completed, the cooling towers would soon be completed, the coal and ash plant would be finished by June, and preliminary tests should be underway by July or early August.


24 January. Padiham 'A' was brought into regular use. An 11,000 volt main had previously been installed to Accrington's Power Station. The 33,000 volt main was opened between Padiham and Lancashire Electric Power's station at Radcliffe. March. A further 12,500kW turbo alternator set sanctioned; it was installed by 1929. The sets were subsequently rated at 7,500 kW and 15, 625 kW.


Burnley to supply Briercliffe. Colne to supply Trawden.


Nelson to supply Earby and Barnoldswick.


McGowen Committee sits, but recommendations not implemented until after the war.


Padiham power station supplies part of the following loads; Padiham (7600kW), Burnley (20,500kW) and Nelson & Colne (11,800kW). Two more 12,500kW turbo alternators proposed to help this supply. 70 million units generated each year at 20% load factor.


Two more boilers installed in the 'A' Station.


M.H.Adams appointed Chief Engineer and Manager of L.E.P.


Electricity Act setting up the British Electricity Authority, later called the Central Electricity Authority, under the control of the Minister of Fuel and Power. It takes over Lancashire Electrical Power Company, and was to promote economical methods of generation, transmission and distribution and to cheapen supplies to rural areas. They were to standardise the system of supply and electrical fittings. The Central Authority was divided into eleven divisions, and there were twelve Area Boards. H.H.Wall appointed Station Manager.


W.Blythe appointed Station Manager when H.H.Wall moves to the newly opened Huncoat Station.


June. 240 MW Padiham 'B' authorised.


Alan Parker appointed Station Manager.


30 December. No.1 Unit first synchronised.


4 March. No.1 Unit officially commissioned. 13 April. No.1 Unit provisionally available for 120 MW generation. 8 August. Sabotage considered as possible reason for units teething troubles. 14 August. No.1 Unit recommissioned and synchronised after modifications. 5 Nov No.2 Unit first synchronised. 22 Nov No.2 Unit officially commissioned.


December. Site tests for proposed Padiham 'C'.


February. Acceptance tests for both turbo-alternators. April. No.1 boiler, first acceptance tests.


December. Second acceptance tests for No.1 boiler.


W.B. (Bill) Harling appointed Station Manager.


February. 'A' Station closes.


August. Second acceptance tests for No.1 turbo-alternator. Oil firing proposed for No.2 boiler.


February. Miners strike.


R.S. (Bob) Neish appointed Station Manager. Mar - Dec No.1 unit converted to fire residual oil followed by acceptance tests.


Because of employee George Shaw's illness, station staff collect enough money to purchase a mobile dialysis machine.


Price of oil begins to rise.


Padiham wins Regional Good Housekeeping Award. Petrocoke used for the first time. 16 June. No.1 Unit declared cold. Seven days notice required for generation.


J.T. (Tom) Simpson appointed Station Manager.


90 ton weighbridge from Torness installed. 20 April. Visit to station by Burnley's Councillors and Chief Officer. 8 July. Visit to station by Hyndburn's Councillors and Chief Officer.


February. Coal Oil Dispersion 5000 ton test. 29 March Visit to station by Burnley's Mayor and Mayoress with local JP's.


17 February. New transformer installed. 12 May Station Open Day. October. Total units generated reaches 15 million MWhrs. Oct - Nov. Miners strike. No.2 Unit achieves 100,000 hours run.


Peter Wilkinson appointed Station Manager.


Padiham's Visitor Centre opened.


9 March. Last time No.1 Unit on load.


31 March. Last delivery of coal. September Padiham 'B' ceases generation.

Mike Clarke
Milepost Research
8 Green Bank
BB18 6HX
tel: +44 (0)1282 850430

Fax: 0870 134 5609


last revised: 21 November 2005