Catalogue description SYDNEY ERNEST BRITTON (1874-1946)

This record is held by Cheshire Archives and Local Studies

Details of ZCR 342
Reference: ZCR 342
Title: SYDNEY ERNEST BRITTON (1874-1946)

Newcuttings, correspondence etc.

Date: 1920-1946
Related material:

Further information about S.E. Britton's career may be found amongst the official records of Chester City Council, for example: Electricity Department, 1882-1947 (Ref. DEL/1-6)


Treasurer's Department: Committee Accounts, Electric Lighting Account, 1889-1949 (Ref. DTR)


City and County of the City of Chester, Minutes of Proceedings of Council and Committees, in particular:


1903-04 (appointment of City Electrical Engineer)


1910-15 (Hydro Electric Power station on the River Dee)


1919-21 (Electricity (Supply) Act, 1919, and Queen's Ferry bulk supply)


1925-28 (rural supply, early expansion)


1934-35 (Illuminations)


1935-36 (Third World Power Conference)


1944-45 (Electrical Exhibition)


1945-46 (death of Electrical Engineer, appointment of successor and Jubilee celebrations)


1946-47 (Jubilee celebrations)

Held by: Cheshire Archives and Local Studies, not available at The National Archives
Language: English

Britton, Sydney Ernest, 1874-1946, engineer

Physical description: 32 Files
Access conditions:

Prior notice required for access except CR342/7,9-13,21.

Administrative / biographical background:

After leaving the City of London School, S.E. Britton's training began with Messrs. Crompton and Co. Ltd., mechanical and electrical engineers, in Chelmsford, Essex. He held posts as Assistant Electrical Engineer at Southampton Electricity Supply Undertaking; Chief Engineer and Manager of the Electricity Undertaking in Barking; and then was the Burgh Electrical Engineer at Motherwell before his appointment as City Electrical Engineer for Chester in 1904.


He succeeded F. Thursfield who had supervised the first eight years following the inauguration of the supply from New Crane Street, after the Chester Electric Lighting Order, 1890. Britton's early achievements were additions to the Steam Generating Station, and the design and construction of the Hydro Electric Power Station on the River Dee, 1912-13. During the First World War, Britton was technical advisor to several government boards. Following the Electricity (Supply) Act,1919, Britton supervised the Chester Corporation proposal for a Joint Electricity Authority of North Wales and Chester, which, however, came to nothing. (See CR 342/1-3). Britton then developed the Chester area of supply, including the erection of transmission lines from Queen's Ferry and of three sub stations in Chester in 1921. He also designed the Hydro Electric Power installation at Denbigh for North Wales Counties Asylum. (See CR 342/4 and 6). The expansion of the area of supply from Chester and the pioneering electrification of rural areas developed after the Chester Electricity (Extension) Special Orders, made in 1923 and 1927 (See CR 342/11-16 and 25).


Britton's eminence in his field was marked by his election as President of the Incorporated Municipal Electrical Association (I.M.E.A.) for 1923-24, followed by the I.M.E.A. 29th Annual Convention, held in Chester (See CR 342/5-10). His most well known public work was probably the initiation of the Chester Illuminations in 1935. (See CR 342/17).


At the Third World Power Conference held in Washington, U.S.A. in 1936, Britton was invited to speak on rural electrification in Britain. (See CR 342/18-22). Ten years later, Chester was celebrating fifty years of the Chester Electricity Undertaking which had grown from an initial 211 consumers to 23,162 in 1946 (See CR 342/26-28). Forty two of those years had been under S.E. Britton as City Electrical Engineer. At the age of seventy, and without retiring, he died quite suddenly (See CR 342/29-31). He was succeeded by S.C. Harling.


In his leisure S.E. Britton was a Past President of the Rotary Club; a member of the Cestrian Lodge of Freemasons; and a keen shot and walker.

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