The first legislation relating to the public supply of electricity was the Electric Lighting Act 1882. London attracted an initial scramble for supply rights. Under the 1882 and 1888 Acts, Provisional Orders were granted by the Board of Trade to undertakings to authorise them to supply electricity. The Orders laid down that after a period of 42 years, the undertakings were to be purchased by local authorities. The Orders also debarred companies from associating with one another, which made exchanges of supplies difficult, and encouraged the building of small generating stations serving limited supply areas. While the initial Act favoured municipal undertakings set up by the local Vestries (the forerunners of the Borough Councils), later amendment Acts were passed which encouraged private companies.
The original demand for electricity was for street lighting. The first central supply plant was the Holborn Viaduct plant, opened in 1882, supplying about 60 kilowatts of power. With the growth in the popularity of electricity over gas lighting in the early 20th century, an increasing supply network (developed through laying of cables and erection of pylons) rapidly transformed industrial processes and domestic life through its use as a source of power for heat, light and the powering of growing range of household electrical appliances and machinery.
Each pre-vesting company undertaking had a Board of Directors which managed the operations of the General Manager and Engineer. The local authority undertakings each had an Electricity Committee which managed its own Electrical Department. In 1900, the control of the Parish Vestries over the supply of electricity was transferred to newly created Metropolitan Boroughs under the terms of the London Government Act 1899 and the London Electric Lighting Areas Act 1904 was passed to unify the Boroughs' electricity supply boundaries.
As the role of electricity undertakings diversified, their organisational structures were broadened to include Sales Departments and Rental Wiring Sections in order to manage the growing business of retailing electrical fittings and appliances to domestic consumers. The Showrooms provided by the undertakings sold and hired out electrical fittings and appliances. They included exhibitions and displays of appliances including light shades, vacuum cleaners, electric fires, electric kettles and cookers and radio and televisions, lecture halls for the demonstration of the uses of domestic appliances, and customer enquiries and payments.
After the First World War (1914 - 1918) legislation was introduced to improve the organisation of the electricity supply industry. The Electricity (Supply) Act 1919 established the Electricity Commissioners who had powers to inspect and refuse undertakings' applications for increases in generating plant and the Electricity (Supply) Acts 1926 made major provisions for the concentration of generation in a limited number of interconnected stations by means of a National Grid. Generation was to be operated by the owners on account of the newly constituted Central Electricity Board and supplies were sold in bulk to electricity undertakings at a fixed rate.
By the 1930s, there were 41 undertakings, consisting of a mixture of Borough Council and private enterprises operating supplies at 20 different voltages, some companies using direct current (DC) and others using alternating current (AC). The London Power Company Limited was the major generator. The remaining 40 undertakings not only distributed the electricity, but often generated electricity particularly to meet peak demands.
With the growth in the number of undertakings it was soon realised that co-operation between companies would increase profits through the enhancement of electricity generation. In 1938 six of London's West End companies amalgamated to form Central London Electricity Limited (which resulted from an original scheme of consolidation undertaken by London Power Company Limited created in 1925, which had been taken over by London Associated Electricity Undertakings Limited in 1936). The largest companies were the County of London Electric Supply Company which also supplied to parts of Essex and Surrey, and Central London Electricity Limited.
The Second World War (1939 - 1945) saw a temporary decline in the demand for electricity, as a result of night time blackouts operated to counter the success of enemy raids, the evacuation of children, and the decline in commercial activities. A large number of electricity staff joined the Armed Forces or the Home Guard units. Each generating station and main substation had its own Home Guard unit.
The overriding priority during the blitz was to maintain electricity supplies by whatever means possible. To bypass a bomb crater, cables would be laid and jointed in street gutters. Generating Stations received bomb damage, but due to the high-tension electricity grid, alternative supplies could be brought in, and the continuity of supply was maintained.
List of pre-vesting undertakings
Brief histories of most of the pre-vesting undertakings which supplied electricity in London, and which are represented in the archive, are listed below in alphabetical order by name of the organisation:
Barking Urban District Council's Electricity Undertaking was authorised by the Barking Town Electric Lighting Order 1897. The Electricity Department ran Works at East Street, Barking, commencing supply in 1899. Traction supply was provided for Barking Tramways. The bulk supply of electricity was latterly taken from the County of London Electric Supply Company Limited. Converter plant was situated at Axe Street, and the offices and showrooms at Electricity House, Ripple Road, Barking.
Barnes Urban District Council Electricity Undertaking was authorised by Provisional Order 1898 and electricity was first supplied in 1901. In 1925 the first sub-station was erected at East Sheen. The Council took a bulk supply of electricity from the London and Home Counties Joint Electricity Authority in 1930. In 1948 the Electricity Works were situated at Mortlake High Street and there were 15 sub-stations for the distribution of the supply. The number of consumers rose from 125 in 1902 to 12,145 in 1947. The maximum supply demand grew from 62 kW in 1902 to 9,740 kW in 1947.
Battersea Metropolitan Borough Council Electricity Undertaking was authorised by the Battersea Electric Lighting Order 1896, which had been obtained by the Borough's predecessor the Vestry of Saint Mary, Battersea. In 1897 a site was purchased for a Central Electric Generating Station at Lombard Street and the foundation stone was laid in 1900. Electricity supply commenced in September 1901. Between 1902 and 1903, 768,879 Board of Trade Units of electricity were supplied to 324 consumers. In 1926 the first transformer sub-station was built at Chatham House and a Rental Wiring and Apparatus Hiring Service was introduced. In 1927 showrooms and offices were opened at Lavender Hill. Battersea's generating station became a 'Selected Station' under the Central Electricity Board's provisions, for connection to the newly established National Grid. By 1939 over 73,500,000 Board of Trade Units of electricity were supplied to Battersea consumers and a further 27,000,000 to the National Grid. The Undertaking was managed by the Council's Electricity Committee.
Beckenham Urban District Council Electricity Undertaking was authorised by the Beckenham Electric Lighting Order 1893, and was first managed by its special Electric Lighting Committee in April 1897. In 1898 a permanent Electricity Committee was appointed. In 1900 Electric Lighting and Dust Destructor Works began in Arthur Road (later renamed Churchfields Road), Beckenham, and a Free Wiring Scheme was introduced. The area supplied totalled over 6 square miles but excluded the areas added to the Borough, of West Wickham and part of Hayes. The Council acquired the portion of the undertaking of the South Metropolitan Electric Light and Power Company within their area. In 1911 Showrooms were opened at 45 High Street, Beckenham, displaying and demonstrating electrical fittings and appliances for 'Sale or Return'. In 1912 general offices of the Electricity Department were opened above the Showrooms and 43 High Street was added in 1918. The development of the Undertaking was assisted by the introduction of an Installation Department with service of direct sales of wiring, fittings and apparatus to consumers. Later bulk supplies of electricity were provided for distribution by West Kent Electricity Company Limited. New Municipal Offices and Showrooms were opened August 1932 and occupied the frontage of the Town Hall, High Street. In 1941 a repair workshop, garages and stores were built at the Power Station. A staff Social Club was instituted in 1930 and organised summer and winter events, Christmas parties, outings and sports activities.
Bermondsey Metropolitan Borough Council's predecessor the Vestry of Bermondsey appointed a Special Committee in 1896 to apply for a Provisional Order for the supply of electricity. A permanent Electricity and Street Lighting Committee (later the Electricity Committee) was established and a generating station was built at Neckinger, Bermondsey, which opened in January 1902. In the same year powers were granted to the Borough for the supply of electricity to Rotherhithe. In 1917 the bulk supply of electricity was obtained from the London Electric Supply Corporation Limited, and local generation was discontinued in 1930. In 1922 a scheme of assisted domestic wiring and fitting was introduced. In 1938 the main aim of the Electricity Department was 'the simplicity, efficiency and economy of electricity for all domestic purposes'. The Municipal offices were based at Spa Road, Bermondsey and showrooms were opened at 320 Jamaica Road, Rotherhithe for the display and demonstration of electric light fittings and appliances. In 1940 the main offices were hit by enemy bombing and many of the records were destroyed.
Bethnal Green Metropolitan Borough Council Electricity Undertaking was authorised by the Bethnal Green Electric Lighting Order 1899. Supply of electricity commenced in 1916. Power was obtained in bulk from Stepney Metropolitan Borough Council. In 1938 the electricity Supply Department was based in temporary offices at 1 Old Ford Road. By 1948 the offices and service centre were based at the Town Hall.
Blackheath and Greenwich District Electric Light Company (see South Metropolitan Electric Light and Power Company Limited, and Woolwich Metropolitan Borough Council).
Bromley (Kent) Electric Light and Power Company Limited (see also Bromley Urban District Council).
Electric Lighting Order granted to Bromley Urban District Council or its predecessors in 1891 and transferred to the above company in 1898. The Council had the right to purchase the undertaking at the expiry of each period of seven years. Supply of electricity commenced 1899.
Bromley Urban District Council took over the Electrical Undertaking from Bromley Electric Light and Power Company Limited in 1927. The area of supply excluded the parishes of Hayes and Keston (supplied by West Kent Electric Company Limited). Generation was discontinued in 1931 when the bulk supply was taken from West Kent Electric Company Limited. Showrooms and Department Offices were based at 1 West Street, Bromley. The number of consumers increased from 3,000 to 13,000 from 1927 to 1937.
Brompton and Kensington Electric Supply Company Limited was incorporated in 1888 and commenced supply in 1899. The company was first known as House to House Electric Light Company and secured rights to supply electricity not only within London but outside the capital and carried out contract work in laying down electricity mains and generating stations at Eastbourne, Sussex, Leeds and Madrid, Spain. A generating station was built at Richmond Road (later renamed Old Brompton Road) under supervision of Robert Hammond, Managing Director and pioneer of electricity. Later one of the six companies which formed Central London Electricity Limited. In 1947 demand was 14,640 kW.
Cadogan Electric Lighting Company (see Chelsea Electricity Supply Company Limited).
Central Electric Supply Company (see Saint James' and Pall Mall Electric Lighting Company Limited and Westminster Electric Supply Corporation Limited).
Central London Electricity Limited was formed through the amalgamation of the following six West End companies: Brompton and Kensington Electric Supply Company Limited, Charing Cross Electricity Supply Company Limited, Chelsea Electricity Supply Company Limited, Kensington and Knightsbridge Electric Lighting Company Limited, Saint James' and Pall Mall Electric Lighting Company Limited and Westminster Electric Supply Corporation Limited.
Under the London Electricity Act 1925, an extension had been given to the tenure of electricity undertakings before their transfer to public authorities and powers had been granted for the pooling of the generating resources of the undertakings in the East and West Ends. The West End companies first formed the London Power Company Limited in 1925. Out of date plants were replaced and transmission lines were laid to interconnect the generating stations and to provide a bulk supply to the distributing companies. A new station was built at Battersea and was the largest of its kind in Europe. The London Associated Electricity Undertakings Limited was established in 1936 and the six distributing companies were purchased in order to integrate their areas of supplies and co-ordinate resources. In 1938 the six companies were amalgamated together through the acquisition by the Charing Cross Company of the other five companies and it changed its name to Central London Electricity Limited. During the Second World War (1939 - 1945), bombing and evacuation led to the loss of one-third of the company's customers and half of its electricity output. Units sold dropped to 303 million in 1943 but recovered to 434 million units in 1947. By 1948 there were 2,200 employees of whom 1,250 were members of the Company's Sports and Social Club.
In 1948 Central London Electricity Limited Principal Offices were:
Head Office, 60 Saint Martin's Lane
Accountancy Branch, 19 Carnaby Street
Engineering Branch, 25 Eccleston Place
Commercial Branch, 63/81 Pelham Street
In 1948 Central London Electricity Limited Showrooms were at:
143/7 Regent Street
31 Belgrave Road
254 Earl's Court Road
147 Sloane Street
112 Victoria Street
Charing Cross Electricity Supply Company Limited was registered in 1889 as the Electricity Supply Corporation Limited and underwent a number of name changes as Charing Cross and Strand Electricity Supply Corporation Limited, then Charing Cross, West End and City Electricity Supply Company Limited. The company had originated with the installation by A and J Gatti of a private plant to supply Adelaide Galleries, which was followed by one of the earliest electricity mains laid in Maiden Lane connecting the Adelphi Theatre. The public company obtained orders to supply from Strand to Holborn, and this was extended to the City of London in 1899. Plants were erected in Bull Inn Court, Lambeth and Saint Martin's Lane, Westminster to meet increasing demands for electricity. In 1902 a generating station was commissioned at Bow to meet further increases, with a capacity of 4,800 kW. Later was the chief one of the six companies which formed Central London Electricity Limited. In 1947 maximum demand was 48,025 kW.
Chelsea Electricity Supply Company Limited was incorporated in 1884 and an order was obtained to supply electricity in 1886. Callender's Cable Company and Electrical Power Storage Company were involved in the planning of the company and supplies were made under supervision of the Electric Consumption Company until 1892. The first electricity plant was at Cadogan Gardens. The Cadogan Electric Lighting Company which had obtained a Board of Trade Licence to supply electricity and had set up a generating station at Manor Street, was bought by the Chelsea Company in 1894. 80 kW plant sets were operated at Flood Street and were enhanced by steam driven turbines to produce 2,800 kW in 1911. Later one of the six companies which formed Central London Electricity Limited. In 1947 maximum demand was 17,049 kW.
Chislehurst Electric Supply Company Limited's initial memorandum of association was dated 22 January 1897. In 1908 the Directors' Meetings were held 1 West Street, Bromley. The Company was taken over by County of London Electric Supply Company Limited in 1927 and the Registered Offices moved to County House, 46-47 New Broad Street, City of London.
City of London Electric Lighting Company Limited was founded in 1890 by J B Braithwaite, Pioneer in the electric supply industry, and incorporated 11 July 1891. The Company was authorised to supply electricity under Southwark (1891) and City of London (1890 and 1891) Electric Lighting Orders and City of London Electric Lighting Acts 1893 and 1900. The Company operated Bankside Power Station from 1891 and supplied an area of 1.25 square miles covering the City of London and the parishes of Christchurch and Saint Saviour in Southwark. In 1910 offices were at 1-2 Great Winchester Street, City of London. By 1925 the registered offices were at Falcon House, Aldersgate Street, City of London. Under the London Electricity Act 1925, interconnections were made to co-ordinate generating resources between the Company and the County of London Electric Supply Company Limited, South London Electric Supply Corporation Limited and South Metropolitan Electric Light and Power Company Limited. In 1945 the maximum supply demand was 200,000 kW. In 1948 plans were made for the re-building of Bankside Power Station and H J Randall, Managing Director, was appointed the first Chairman of the newly established LEB. Sir Giles Scott's Bankside Power Station, the last to be built in central London, was not completed until 1960.
County of London and Brush Provincial Electric Lighting Company Limited (see County of London Electric Supply Company Limited).
County of London Electric Lighting Company (see County of London Electric Supply Company Limited).
County of London Electric Supply Company Limited was originally established as the County of London Electric Lighting Company by J B Braithwaite, Pioneer in the electric supply industry in 1891. The name was changed to the County of London and Brush Provincial Electric Lighting Company Limited in 1893. The Brush Company brought their interest in Bournemouth Electric Lighting Company and a generating station at Dover. In 1892 the first Provisional Order was secured to supply an area of 19 square miles. Two generating stations were completed 1897, with strikes and litigation difficulties, at City Road, next to Regent's Canal for cheap coal supply and Wandsworth. By 1902, the Company possessed Parliamentary powers for area far larger than any other undertaking. The County of London Electric Supply Company Bill 1904 proposed powers for 1. the interconnection of the Company's generating stations 2. the compulsory acquisition of lands for generating stations 3. the supply of electricity to railways and tramways. The Act of 1905 did not give the company powers of interconnection but was implemented under the Electricity Act 1908 which enabled the interconnection of generating stations in the London area. In 1911 the City Road and Wandsworth stations were interconnected. In 1905 the Company obtained a Provisional Order to supply Croydon rural district and in 1913 the Romford and District Provisional Order was secured authorising the Company to supply 130 square miles of industrial Essex and which later aided the building of Barking Power Station, costing £2.5 million, opened by Queen Mary in 1925 which came into commercial operation in 1927. The Company pioneered centralised generation and the development of higher tension cables to carry supplies away from Barking which led to further development of supply areas over the majority of Kent, Essex, Surrey and Sussex. The plant had a capacity of 540,000 kW in 1948. By 1930 there were 3,200 miles of cable in the Company's system and in 1935 there were 3,350 sub-stations. By 1945 the Company served 3 million people over an area of 3,000 square miles.
The Company developed a large number of Sports and Social Clubs for its employees, special educational facilities for younger members and welfare officers for health purposes. During World War Two (1939 - 1945) the Company received £1 million worth of plant damage from enemy action. Over 3,000 staff served in the Forces and another 3,300 in the Home Guard.
The Company had large interests in the following undertakings:
Bournemouth and Poole Electricity Supply Company Limited (formed to acquire the County Company's interest in Bournemouth and District Electric Supply Company Limited 1897)
Richmond (Surrey) Electric Light and Power Company Limited (acquired by Bournemouth Company 1899)
Lower Thames Land Development and Construction Company Limited (1916)
South London Electric Supply Corporation Limited (1918)
Kent Electric Power Company (1923)
South East Kent Electric Power Company Limited (1923)
South Metropolitan Electric Light and Power Company Limited (1923)
West Kent Electric Company Limited (subsidiary of South Metropolitan)
Chislehurst Electric Supply Company Limited (1927)
Blandford Forum and District Electric Supply Company Limited (acquired by Bournemouth Company 1928)
Horley and District Electricity Supply Company Limited (1928)
Sevenoaks and District Electricity Supply Company Limited (1928)
Folkestone Electricity Supply Company Limited (1929)
Wickford District Electricity Supply Company Limited (1929)
Weald Electricity Supply Company Limited (1932)
Swanage Gas and Electricity Company (acquired by Bournemouth Company 1933)
Milton and Barton-on-Sea (Hampshire) Electricity Supply Company Limited (acquired by Bournemouth Company 1934)
Milford-on-Sea Electric Supply Company Limited (acquired by Bournemouth Company 1935)
Foots Cray Electricity Supply Company Limited (1936)
Ramsgate and District Electric Supply Company Limited (1937)
Brentwood District Electric Company Limited (1944)
Crystal Palace District Electric Supply Company Limited (see South Metropolitan Electric Light and Power Company Limited).
Dartford Urban District Council's Electricity Undertaking was authorised by Dartford Electric Lighting Order 1898, and supply commenced in 1901. The Council's Power Station was at Priory Road. In 1922 the Council entered into agreements with Woolwich, Erith and Bexley Undertakings to interconnect generating plant to save generating plant extensions, but pulled out, and later had to take expensive bulk supplies from the County of London Electric Supply Company Limited (via West Kent Electric Company Limited).
East Ham County Borough Council's Electricity Undertaking was authorised by an Electric Lighting Order of 1898 and supply commenced in 1901. Traction supply was provided for East Ham Corporation Tramways (the first municipally owned electric tramway in the London area). Interconnection was made with West Ham 1922, and with the National Grid 1932. The main works were situated at Nelson Street, East Ham, and generation discontinued in 1931. The branch showroom was based at 703/5 Romford Road, Manor Park.
Electric Installation and Maintenance Company Limited (see South Metropolitan Electric Light and Power Company Limited).
Electricity Supply Corporation Limited (see Charing Cross Electricity Supply Company Limited).
Erith Urban District Council's Electricity Undertaking was authorised by Erith Electric Lighting Order 1899. Public supply of electricity began in January 1903. Electricity Department operated generation plant at Walnut Tree Road until 1927. In 1922 an agreement was reached with Woolwich and Bexley Undertakings to interconnect the generating systems to save local extensions of generating plant. Later bulk supplies were provided by the Woolwich Undertaking. In 1936 the generating station was rebuilt and a new station was erected at Belvedere. In 1939 new showrooms and offices were opened at Pier Road and Bexley Road, Erith, Kent. The number of consumers rose from 1,000 in 1910 to 12,000 in 1940.
Foots Cray Electricity Supply Company Limited was incorporated 15 December 1905 and was authorised to supply electricity under the Foots Cray Electric Lighting Order 1901 which had been transferred to the Company by Foots Cray Urban District Council, and a later Order (1906) transferred powers from Bromley Rural District Council. Supply commenced 1907 with bulk supplies of electricity from Bexley Urban District Council. The Electricity Works and Substation were at Sidcup.
In 1934 the Registered Office was at 88 Kingsway, Holborn. Control of the Company passed to County of London Electric Supply Company Limited in 1936 and local administration and construction work, along with West Kent, Sevenoaks and Chislehurst Companies, was carried out by West Kent Electric Company Limited. The Registered Office moved to County House, 46-47 New Broad Street, City of London. In 1947 the maximum supply demand was 2311 kW.
Fulham Metropolitan Borough Council's Electricity Undertaking was authorised by the Fulham Electric Lighting Order 1897, which had been granted to the Borough's predecessor, the Vestry of Fulham. In 1901 electricity supply commenced. In 1937 Fulham Power Station, Townmead Road, became a 'Selected Station' under the provisions of the Central Electricity Board, for the National Grid. The Electricity Department developed a Service Department for consumers and opened its first showroom at 603, Fulham Road in 1911. In 1928 new Central Offices and Showrooms opened at 587-591 Fulham Road.
Hackney Metropolitan Borough Council's Electricity Undertaking was run by the Borough's Electricity Department, authorised by the Hackney Electric Lighting Order 1893. In October 1900 the foundation stone of Hackney Electricity Works and Refuse Destructor was laid at Millfields Road, Clapton, and public electricity supply began a year later. In 1906 Hackney gained its own Act of Parliament giving complete powers for the development of the Undertaking. In 1911 the Borough agreed to interconnect its plant with other generating stations for the purpose of extending and cheapening electricity supplies and later linked with Islington, Poplar and Shoreditch Undertakings and North Metropolitan Electric Power Supply Company. In 1925 Electricity Demonstration Halls and Offices were opened at 18-24 Lower Clapton Road. An earlier showroom had been run at 306 Mare Street. In 1927 the Public Lighting Scheme was completed and street lighting was converted from gas to electricity. Upon the creation of the LEB, the area became Hackney District of the Northern Sub-Area and the offices and showroom in Lower Clapton Road became the Electricity Service Centre.
Hammersmith Metropolitan Borough Council Electricity Undertaking was authorised by the Hammersmith Electric Lighting Order 1893, which had been obtained by the Borough's predecessor, the Hammersmith Vestry. The Vestry's Electricity Committee was appointed in 1891 and organised the erection of Fulham Palace Road Generating Station in 1895-1896. Electricity supply began in 1897. In 1911 a scheme of hire of wiring and fittings was offered to shop premises. From 1916 bulk supplies of electricity from the Borough were purchased by Chiswick Electricity Supply Corporation Limited and later Brentford and Chiswick Borough Council. In 1920 the interconnection of generating stations was agreed between Hammersmith, Fulham and Battersea Undertakings. In 1926 an Assisted Wiring Scheme was started for domestic premises including electrical installations and the rent or hire of appliances. In 1931 new showrooms and offices were opened at Electric House, 154 Uxbridge Road, Shepherds Bush Common. The Electricity Department's premises were later bombed during the Second World War (1939-1945).
Hampstead Metropolitan Borough Council Electricity Undertaking was authorised under the Hampstead (London) Electric Lighting Order 1892. The supply of electricity had been managed initially by the Council's predecessor the Hampstead Vestry through its Electric Lighting Committee. A Central Supply Station and Head Offices were built in 1893 at the Vestry's Stoneyard, Lithos Road, Hampstead. Supply commenced in 1894. From 1921 the bulk supply of electricity commenced from Saint Marylebone Borough Council, and Lithos Road ceased to generate in 1922.
House to House Electric Light Company (see Brompton and Kensington Electricity Supply Company Limited).
Ilford Municipal Borough Council was begun by the Council's predecessor Ilford Urban District Council. Electricity supply started in 1901 and was managed by the Council's Electricity and Lighting Committee. The Electricity Department's offices and works were based at the generating plant at Ley Street. In 1920 - 1924 agreements were made with West Ham and East Ham Undertakings, for West Ham to provide bulk supplies to its partner undertakings, the Electricity Commissioners having stopped authorising further extensions to Ilford generating plant. After the opening of the County of London Electric Supply Company's Barking Power Station, supplementary bulk supply was taken from there. In 1914 Showrooms were provided at 221 High Road, Ilford. In 1939 the Central Showrooms and Offices were at 320-326 High Road and Branch Showrooms were provided at 525 Green Lane, Goodmayes and High Street, Barkingside.
Islington Metropolitan Borough Council Electricity Undertaking was authorised by an Electric Lighting Order of 1893 and commenced supply in 1896. The Borough's predecessor, the Vestry of Saint Mary, Islington, had appointed an Electric Lighting Committee and built a Central Electric Lighting Station at 50 Eden Grove, Holloway. In October 1936 the Electricity Department's Showroom and Offices were opened at 341/343 Holloway Road. At this time the Borough's aim was to develop the Undertaking 'by making uses of electricity familiar to all classes of community and providing a comprehensive service of installation and maintenance which will place the many types of domestic electrical appliances within the reach of every ratepayer'. Major post-war activities included the supply and fitting up with electrical appliances of the new housing estate. In 1947 there were 70 staff.
Kensington and Knightsbridge Electric Lighting Company Limited was incorporated in 1886 as the Kensington Court Electric Light Company, in order to supply an estate under development near Kensington High Street. Saint Mary Abbots and Kensington Town Hall were also supplied by mains. The name of the company changed in 1889 when orders were secured to supply parts of Kensington and Knightsbridge. In 1893 an area originally allocated to Chelsea Electricity Supply Company Limited was purchased and arrangements were made with the Notting Hill Company to erect a joint generating station at Wood Lane. Later one of the six companies which formed Central London Electricity Limited. In 1947 maximum demand was 17,401 kW.
Kensington Court Electric Light Company (see Kensington and Knightsbridge Electric Lighting Company Limited).
Lewisham and District Electric Supply Company Limited (see South Metropolitan Electric Light and Power Company Limited).
Leyton Municipal Borough Council Electricity Undertaking was authorised by Provisional Order obtained by the then Leyton Urban District Council in 1894. In September 1896, electricity supply commenced under the management of the Highways and Lighting Committee (later the Electricity Committee). In 1906 electricity was supplied to the Leyton Corporation tramways. The 'key-note' policy of the Electricity Department was 'Service to the Customer'. In 1908 a showroom was provided in Church Lane, Leytonstone and Lea Bridge Road, Leyton. In 1926 Rental Wiring was introduced to bring the benefits of electricity closer to all consumers. In 1927 the Central Generating Station at Cathall Road, Leytonstone was closed (bulk supply obtained from Walthamstow Council). In 1934 new showrooms were opened at Electric Corner, 819 High Road, Leytonstone, in addition to smaller showrooms at 280 High Road, Leyton and 368 Lea Bridge Road, Leyton. In 1940 a works Home Guard Unit was formed for the defence of the Electricity Undertaking from enemy action. In 1946 the Electricity Offices were at Cathall Road. The Undertaking saw major growth between 1896 and 1946, with an increase from 110 to 29,137 consumers.
London and Home Counties Joint Electricity Authority (see London Power Company Limited).
London Associated Electricity Undertakings Limited (see Central London Electricity Limited).
London Electric Supply Corporation Limited (LESCo) (see also Westminster Electric Supply Corporation Limited). In 1883 a temporary generating plant had been installed to light Grosvenor Gallery, New Bond Street and in 1886 Sebastian Ziani de Ferranti developed a distribution scheme using transformers. The Corporation was formed in 1887 to develop the scheme further through the building of a larger Power Station and a system of substations. By 1888,280 customers were connected. The Corporation built a power station at a 3 acre site at The Stowage, Deptford. Ferranti as Chief Engineer designed the building, the generating plant and the distribution system. On its completion in 1891, Deptford Power Station was the world's first modern power station. Cables were laid to link the Station with four Sub-stations at Grosvenor Gallery, Trafalgar Square, Blackfriars and Deptford. The Corporation's early supply area ranged from Westminster, the West End, Lambeth, Blackfriars, Newington and Deptford. During 1890s the Corporation lost a large number of consumers following a fire at Grosvenor Gallery Sub-station and in 1894 receivers we called in. In 1898 receivership ended and the undertaking reverted back to the Corporation. In 1904 the Corporation installed two 2,000 kW alternators for London County Council's tramways and also supplied the South Eastern and London, Brighton and South Coast railway companies. It also supplied London County Council offices and Saint Thomas's Hospital.
In 1920 the Corporation joined with nine other companies to create London Power Company Limited. The interconnection of the companies' power stations and infrastructure helped support cheaper and increased supplies of electricity. Deptford Station was handed over to the London Power Company in 1928 and later became known as Deptford East Power Station when a new Deptford West Station was built on the same site. These developments lowered customer tariffs helping the Corporation retail domestic electricity supplies and increasingly electrical appliances. Electricity Showrooms were opened at Deptford and New Cross where appliances could be purchased or hired. The Corporation sold its West End supply network to Central London Electricity Company.
The Corporation has its own Sports Ground for its Sports and Social Clubs plus Home Guard.
1887 3 Adelphi Terrace, Westminster
1894 Trafalgar Sub-station, 25A Cockspur Street. The Engineer's Offices, Stores and Test Room remained at Adelphi Wharf until 1932
1932 Lesco House, Stamford Street, Westminster
London Electricity Joint Committee (1920) Limited (see London Power Company Limited)
London Power Company Limited (see also Central London Electricity Limited and London Electric Supply Corporation Limited) arose from a number of steps made for the rationalisation of London's electricity network. In 1920 the Electricity Commissioners set out an area known as the London and Home Counties Electricity District for unified control. A 'Joint Electricity Authority' would manage all the generating stations and operate and develop the most efficient stations and provide a bulk supply to the existing undertakings for the distribution of electricity supplies. The interested parties comprised ten companies, namely the London Electricity Joint Committee (1920) Limited and nine other companies comprising Brompton and Kensington Electric Supply Company Limited, Central Electric Supply Company Limited, Charing Cross Electricity Supply Company Limited, Kensington and Knightsbridge Electric Lighting Company Limited, London Electric Supply Corporation Limited, Metropolitan Electric Supply Company Limited, Notting Hill Electric Lighting Company Limited, Saint James' and Pall Mall Electric Lighting Company Limited and Westminster Electric Supply Corporation Limited
Following agreements made between the Companies and the London County Council, Parliament approved the formation of the London and Home Counties Joint Electricity Authority in 1925. The London Electricity Acts 1925 authorised the amalgamation of the East-End companies that were not members of the ten-company group, and the taking over by the ten-company group of power stations and generating plant of its ten constituent companies and to supply in bulk to the former owners who would act as distributors and retailers of electricity. The group changed its name to the London Power Company Limited and had powers to supply electricity to the Joint Electricity Authority, and the constituent companies could amalgamate.
The area of bulk supply extended from Kensington in the west to the London Dockyards in the East End. The Company acquired 13 formerly independent generating stations, of which 9 were closed:
Alpha Place closed 1928
Amberley Road closed 1926
Carnaby Street closed 1922 (formerly owned by Saint James' and Pall Mall Electric Lighting Company Limited)
Cheval Place removed from the list of effective stations 1923 (formerly owned by Kensington and Knightsbridge Electric Lighting Company Limited)
Davies Street closed 1921 (formerly owned by Westminster Electric Supply Corporation Limited)
Deptford East (continued)
Eccleston Place closed 1922 (formerly owned by Westminster Electric Supply Corporation Limited)
Grove Road, Saint John's Wood (continued)
Horseferry Road closed 1927
Richmond Road closed 1928
Acton Lane, Willesden (continued)
Wood Lane closed 1928
In 1929 a new power station at Deptford West was built and the Company built Battersea Power Station (commenced 1929 but not completed until 1955).
In 1948 London Power Company Limited Head Office was at Ergon House, Horseferry Road.
Marylebone Electric Supply Company Limited, The first Directors of the Company were nominated in June 1897. The Registered Office was at 19 Carnaby Street, Westminster and later Moorgate Court, City of London. (For supply of electricity to Saint Marylebone see Metropolitan Electric Supply Company Limited and Saint Marylebone Metropolitan Borough Council)
Metropolitan Electric Supply Company Limited (METESCo) was originally registered in 1887 as South Metropolitan Electric Supply Company Limited. In 1888 the name changed. The Company originally operated stations at Whitehall Court, Rathbone Place, Sardinia Street, and Manchester Square (Aybrook Street). This latter generating station was bought out by Saint Marylebone Borough Council. In March 1896 the Company experimented with lighting Regent Street from Oxford Circus to Langham Hotel. The Company reorganised their supply system in 1905, and built large generating stations at Willesden (Acton Road) and Amberley Road with main sub-stations at Fisher Street, Red Lion Square and Tower Street, Holborn. The company distributed electricity in Holborn and Paddington Metropolitan Boroughs, and in portions of the City of Westminster and Finsbury. It also distributed in the Borough of Acton, Hanwell and Greenford Detatched Districts of Ealing Borough, and in the Borough of Southall/Norwood. The London Power Company Limited took over the operations of the Willesden (Acton Lane) and Amberley Road generating stations in 1924.
North Metropolitan Electric Power Supply Company was incorporated in 1900 (name changed to Northmet Power Company in 1939). It supplied 671 square miles in Middlesex, Hertfordshire and Essex with power stations at Brimsdown ('A' and 'B') and Willesden (Taylor's Lane). (See Willesden Urban District Council).
Northmet Power Company (see North Metropolitan Electric Power Supply Company)
Notting Hill Electric Lighting Company was incorporated 21 February 1888 and its original supply area was limited to Kensington Palace Gardens and Kensington Town Hall, the surrounding area having been allotted to the Kensington and Knightsbridge and House to House (later Kensington and Brompton) Companies. In 1891 when business commenced the Company supplied 77 houses. In 1899 the Company combined with Kensington and Knightsbridge Company to build a joint station at Wood Lane. The Company joined along with 9 other distributing companies the London Power Company Limited. In 1936 the Notting Hill Company had 17,000 consumers and amalgamated with the Metropolitan Electric Supply Company Limited.
Poplar Metropolitan Borough Council operated under an Electric Lighting Order of 1893 and commenced supply in 1900. Generating stations were at Glaucus Street and Watts Grove, Bromley by Bow. Offices and showrooms were latterly at 208-212 East India Dock Road, Poplar, with additional showrooms at Electric House, Bow Road.
Saint James' and Pall Mall Electric Lighting Company Limited was incorporated in 1888 and was one of the smallest companies. The first generating station was built at Masons Yard with an initial capacity of 740 kW and supplying local premises via overhead lines. Despite a number of actions which were brought against the company concerning emissions from the generating chimney, the generator reached its maximum capacity in 1891. In 1893 an additional works was put into commission at Carnaby Street. In 1898, a more convenient site was required and the company later joined the Westminster Electric Supply Corporation Limited to form the Central Electric Supply Company. In 1902 a generating station at Grove Road, Saint John's Wood was commissioned with a plant capacity of 4,680 kW. Carnaby Street and Masons Yard were later closed down. Later one of the six companies which formed Central London Electricity Limited. In 1947 the maximum demand was 28,246 kW.
Saint Marylebone Metropolitan Borough Council. In March 1896 the Vestry of Saint Marylebone appointed an Electric Lighting Committee to consider the desirability of lighting the parish by electricity. On 31 December 1901 the Borough acquired the Metropolitan Electric Supply Company Limited's right to supply electricity to Marylebone. The Council commenced its supply in August 1905 and from April 1921 a bulk supply to Hampstead Council's Undertaking was provided. The generating station was at Aberdeen Place, Edgware Road, and the main sub-station at Aybrook Street, Saint Marylebone. Offices were at Marylebone Town Hall, but moved to new premises built 1939 in Aybrook Street.
Saint Pancras Metropolitan Borough Council's Electricity Undertaking was authorised by the Saint Pancras Electric Lighting Order 1883 which had been obtained by its predecessor the Vestry of Saint Pancras. It was the first London local authority to undertake the generation and supply of electricity to the public. In 1890 the Regent's Park Generating Station at Stanhope Street, Saint Pancras was built and electricity supplies to the public began in 1891. In 1894 a generating station was built at King's Road (later renamed Saint Pancras Way). In 1903 the network was extended and substations were provided at Tavistock Place (Southern Sub-station) and Highgate Road (Northern Sub-station). The Offices of the Electricity and Public Lighting Department were based at 47 Stanhope Street and later at 57 Pratt Street, Camden Town. The maximum supply demand grew from 1,478 kW in 1895 to 41,392 kW in 1924. After the LEB took over the Undertaking and the responsibility of electricity supplies in 1948, the Borough continued to maintain public street lighting.
Shoreditch Metropolitan Borough Council's Electricity Undertaking was authorised in July 1892 by a Provisional Order obtained by the Borough's predecessor, the Vestry of Saint Leonard, Shoreditch. The heavy industries in Shoreditch, such as City warehouses, manufacturing and furniture trades, offered strong encouragement for the introduction of the supply of electricity. Coronet Street Generating Station and Refuse Destructor began supplying electricity in 1897. Shoreditch was one of the first districts to use the heat from refuse burning to generate electricity. In 1902 a further generating station was opened at Whiston Street (later Whiston Road), which later became a 'Selected Station' under the Central Electricity Board's plans and was connected to the 'Grid'. In 1926 the Borough's Electricity Department began a Rental Wiring Scheme to make electricity available to all domestic premises. New offices and showrooms for the hire of appliances were opened in Hoxton Street. In 1939 the Borough employed 354 staff. Maximum supply demand in 1939 was 17,920 kW.
South London Electric Supply Corporation Limited was authorised to supply electricity under the Lambeth Electric Lighting Order 1892. The Corporation bought Bengeworth Road, Camberwell, in 1897 and a Central generating station was built and began supplying electricity to the public in 1899. On 21 March 1898, George Ellis, Chairman stated:
'I am confident that the residents and business people in South London will not be slow to appreciate the benefits of electric light - its safety, healthfulness, and brilliancy, and, perhaps, by far the most important point of all, the preservation of goods from the damage to which the impurity of gas exposes them' (see LMA/4278/01/661).
The generating station, which survived until 1957, supplied electricity to most of Lambeth from Westminster to Crystal Palace. In 1898 the offices were at 28 Victoria Street, Westminster and in 1900 they moved to Bengeworth Road. In 1917 Central Showrooms were based at Brixton.
In 1916 County of London Electric Supply Company Limited began to supply the Corporation with electricity, and in 1918 the County Company took over the management of the South London Company. The new Registered Offices in 1920 were at Moorgate Court, City of London. In 1928 Head Office moved to County House, 46-47 New Broad Street, City of London. The Local Office continued at Bengeworth Road and the Showrooms were at 413-413A Brixton Road, Lambeth. From 1928, the main bulk supply of electricity to Lambeth was generated by the County Company.
South Metropolitan Electric Light and Power Company Limited (see also County of London Electric Supply Company Limited) was originally named Blackheath and Greenwich District Electric Light Company Limited and was incorporated 11 May 1896. The Company name changed in July 1904. The registered offices were at New Concert Hall, Blackheath (1896) and later at 11 Charing Cross Road (1898).
The Blackheath and Greenwich District Electric Light Company's Act 1903 confirmed the agreement for the transfer to the Company of the Lewisham and District Electric Supply Company Limited. In 1904 the Company took over Crystal Palace District Electric Supply Company Limited. The Crystal Palace Company had begun as the Electric Installation and Maintenance Company Limited in 1891.
In 1905 South Metropolitan was supplying an area of 15 square miles of South London having secured authorisation under the Crystal Palace and District (1890, 1894), Blackheath and Greenwich District (1897, 1899), Lewisham (1901), and Penge (1901) Electric Lighting Orders. Supplies were divided into the Greenwich District and Sydenham District. A generating station was operated at Blackwall Point. In 1923 the management of the Company was taken over by County of London Electric Supply Company Limited. In 1945 the Registered Offices were at County House, 46-47 New Broad Street, City of London. In 1946 the total maximum supply demand was 80,063 kW.
South Metropolitan Electric Supply Company Limited (see Metropolitan Electric Supply Company Limited) should not be confused with South Metropolitan Electric Light and Power Company Limited.
Southwark Metropolitan Borough Council's Electric Lighting Order was granted to the Vestry of Newington in 1897 and supply commenced in 1899. The generating station was at Penrose Street, Walworth. The main supply was latterly purchased in bulk from the City of London Electric Lighting Company Limited at Bankside Power Station.
Stepney Metropolitan Borough Council's Electricity Undertaking originated with the Whitechapel District Board of Works Provisional Order of 1892 for supply of electricity in Whitechapel. Further Orders were granted in 1900 to Limehouse District Board of Works and the Mile End Old Town and Saint George-in-the-East Vestries. In 1899, supply of electricity had been begun in Whitechapel, generated by Osborn Street Generating Station (built 1898). In 1903 the Borough under the management of its Electricity Supply Committee purchased Blyth's Wharf, Limehouse and erected a Generating Station there in 1908. Offices and showrooms were at 27 Osborn Street.
Walthamstow Urban District Council's Electricity Undertaking was inaugurated 20 September 1901, the Electric Lighting Order having been granted in 1895. The generating station was at Exeter Road. The total output from the station increased from 225 kW in 1901 to 20,500 kW in 1936 and the plant was retained as a 'Selected Station' by the Central Electricity Board under provisions of the Electricity (Supply) Act 1926. In 1908 showrooms were provided at 212 High Street. In 1923 an Assisted Wiring Scheme began. In 1936 branch showrooms were provided at 24 The Avenue, Highams Park. By 1947 there were over 36,000 consumers. Offices were at Electric House, Church Hill, Walthamstow.
West Ham County Borough Council's Electricity Undertaking was authorised by a Provisional Order obtained in 1892. In 1895, before public supplies began, a small generating plant was introduced at the Public Hall, Canning Town for the supply of electricity to the Hall and the Library. In December 1898 Abbey Mills Generating Station began to supply electricity to private customers and in January 1899 the management of the Undertaking passed from a Sub-committee of the Highways and Parks Committee to the Electricity and Tramways Committee. In 1904 a new Generating Station was opened at Canning Town and power was generated for the West Ham Corporation Tramways. In the same year the building of West Ham 'A' Power Station began. In 1906 the Headquarters and Sales and General Showroom was based at 84-86 Romford Road. In 1920 West Ham agreed to link its electricity generation with East Ham, Barking and Ilford Undertakings. In 1930 there were 15,850 consumers and the Electricity Department's new offices and showrooms were opened. Under the LEB, West Ham 'B' Power Station was opened in 1951.
West Kent Electric Company Limited was incorporated in November 1908 and was authorised under the West Kent Electric Power Acts 1909 and 1917. The Registered Office was at 183-185 High Street, Lewisham, until 1927 when management of the Company was transferred to County of London Electric Supply Company Limited. The Registered Office moved to County House, 46-47 New Broad Street, City of London. The company supplied parts of Bromley, Dartford, Beckenham, Chislehurst and Sidcup, Crayford, Erith, and Orpington. Bulk supplies were provided to Dartford, Beckenham and Bromley Councils, and Foots Cray Electricity Supply Company Limited. Local offices were at 270 High Street, Orpington. In 1947 the maximum supply demand was 67,156 kW.
Westminster Electric Supply Corporation Limited was incorporated in 1888. In 1889 an order was obtained to supply electricity to Saint George, Hanover Square and part of the joint parish of Saint Margaret and Saint John, Westminster. The area of supply was later extended. The offices were in Victoria Street and a small station was commissioned at Dacre Street. In 1890, the Corporation bought out the City of Westminster Electrical Syndicate, a small company which supplied the area of Victoria Street through two small generating stations. In 1890 and 1891, three generating stations were commissioned at Millbank, Eccleston Place and Davies Street, Mayfair. In 1910 the Millbank site was acquired by London County Council when the River Thames river bank was improved, and a new station was opened at Horseferry Road.
Competition from the London Electric Supply Corporation was halted when a major fire to its generator in Grosvenor Galleries, Bond Street, disrupted its supplies. The Westminster Company obtained a number of the London Company's consumers in the Mayfair area. In 1910 plans were made for the mutual development of the two companies, but disputes led to a law suit which was heard in the House of Lords. In 1931 the London Company gave up its rights and customers were transferred to the Westminster Company.
An agreement was made between Saint James' and Pall Mall Electric Lighting Company Limited and the Westminster Company to establish a generating station at Grove Road, Saint John's Wood to generate jointly for both companies under the name of the Central Electric Supply Company. This station was increasingly used and development of the smaller stations ceased. In 1947 the maximum demand was 72,643 kW. Later one of the six companies which formed Central London Electricity Limited.
Willesden Urban District Council's Electricity Undertaking was authorised by Provisional Order granted in 1898. A generating station was erected at Taylor's Lane and public electricity supplies commenced in 1903. In 1904 the Taylor's Lane generating station was sold to the North Metropolitan Electric Power Supply Company who then provided the bulk supply to Willesden Council's undertaking. After 1923 the hire of domestic cookers began and in 1925 Showrooms were provided adjacent to Taylor's Lane. In 1926 Assisted Wiring began for domestic premises. Maximum generating plant load rose from 300 kW in 1903 to 28,685 kW in 1936-1937. In October 1937 new showrooms and offices were opened at Electric House, 296 Willesden Lane.
Wimbledon Municipal Borough Council's Electricity Undertaking was authorised by the Wimbledon Electric Lighting Order 15 July 1897 which had been granted to the Council's predecessor Wimbledon Urban District Council. The supply of electricity commenced from Durnsford Road Generating Station in 1899. The Wimbledon Electric Lighting (Extension) Order 1903 extended the area of supply to the parish of Merton, and the Wimbledon Electric Lighting (Extension) Order 1911 extended the area further to the Urban District of Maldens and Coombe. The Wimbledon Corporation Act 1914 gave the Council new powers to provide electrical fittings and appliances. In 1923 a Hiring Department was set up to supply electrical goods for domestic purposes. In 1932 the Council application for further increases in plant at Durnsford Road Works were refused and began receiving bulk supplies from the London and Home Counties Joint Electricity Authority. From October 1933 the generating operations were put under the direction of the Central Electricity Board. The Electricity Supply Department's Electricity Works and Offices were at Durnsford Road, Wimbledon and the Showrooms were at 14 Station Bridge, Wimbledon and 114 Malden Road, New Malden.
Woolwich Metropolitan Borough Council's Electricity Undertaking began on the formation of the Borough in 1900 and was managed by the Electricity Committee. In 1902 the Borough purchased the Eltham undertaking of the Blackheath and Greenwich District Electric Light Company Limited and in 1903 purchased the Woolwich and District Electric Light Company. The provisions of the Woolwich Electric Lighting Act 1905 confirmed the Borough's area of electricity supply in Woolwich, Plumstead, Eltham and Abbey Wood. The first showrooms were provided in 1910 and an Assisted Wiring Scheme was established. Woolwich Generating Station was a 'Selected Station' under directions of the Central Electricity Board. In 1936 the Electricity Department's Central Offices and the Sales Department showrooms were opened at Electric House, Powis Street, Woolwich. A Branch showroom was provided at 183 Eltham High Street.