Click here to return to the main site entry page
Click here to return to the previous page
John Wagstaff, 2008
Electricity

Mr John Clark
Mr John Clark
The one person mainly responsible for bringing electricity to Rushden was John Clark, who lived at "Heatherbreea" House in Wellingborough Road. He was born at Higham Ferrers in 1863, upon leaving school he became a clicker in the boot and shoe industry. In 1886 he became a partner with James Jaques and in 1901 they bought the factory at the junction of Midland Road and Station Road, where they traded as Jaques & Clark. James Jaques retired in 1910 and John Clark continued to run the business.

John Clark owned the brick works in Wellingborough Road where the famous "Rushden brick" was made, which was used for the construction of houses and factories that were being built in Rushden at that time.          

He owned a local transport business, and considerable land in and around Rushden.

He became a director of South Hill Ironstone Mines, and a Director of Barratt Co. Boot Manufacturers of Northampton.

In 1913 Mr Clark was elected on to the Rushden and District Urban Council. He was also one of the directors of The Rushden and District Electric Supply Co.

Electricity

On the 3rd May 1912 The Board of Trade made a provisional order to be included in a bill to be introduced into parliament for F. H. Thompson, Brook Sampson and John Clark to authorise them to supply electrical energy for public and private purposes within the Urban District of Rushden, the Borough of Higham Ferrers, the Urban District of Irthlingborough and the rural District of Thrapston.

Laying the cables in High Street out side the Succoth Chapel
DC cable laying in High Street about 1913
Note: It was not cable as we know it today. It was known as V. B. and consisted of two boards laid to form a V, three copper conductors were laid, with spacers, in the trough which was then filled with bitumen, hence the boiler in the picture, and a red tile placed on top of the two boards.
In August 1912 the Rushden and District Electric Supply Co. was registered with a capital of £25,000 in one pound shares to produce and supply electrical energy.In January 1913 the Rushden Urban Council passed plans for a new Electricity Works to be built in Shirley Road for the R.D.E.S.C.O. 

Once the necessary capital was subscribed steps were taken to construct the generating station in Shirley Road and for the laying of nearly three miles of mains cables in Rushden and Higham Ferrers. The works included an engine room with two diesel powered generators of 125 Kilowatts each, a battery room, workshops and offices.

The engine room had space for a third generator when required and the battery could be doubled without increasing the size of the building. The proximity of the railway station enabled the diesel fuel to be pumped directly from the railway waggons into storage tanks.

The Company commenced a public supply of electricity on 15th October 1913.

The formal opening took place on 27th November 1913, when shareholders together with members of the Rushden District Council and Higham Ferrers Town Council were entertained by the director of the works Mr J. H. Thornton J.P., C.C.

The machinery was started up and the visitors made a thorough inspection of the works under the supervision of Mr G. H. Jackson M.I.E.E.  M.I.T.E. chief engineer, being subsequently entertained to tea, and consumables baked by electricity.

Wages Sheet 1913
Week ending Name
Dept.
Rate
Hours
Total
Insurance
Unemployment
Dec 18th 1913  
 
 
 
 
Emd.
Work
Stamd
Emd.
Work.
Stamd
  Peck
Office
12s
 
12s
 
 
 
 
 
 
  A.C.Pratt
Fitter
45s
56
£2- 5- 0
3d
4d
7d
5
  G. Gillett
Driver
30s
56
£1- 10- 0
3d
4d
7d
 
 
 
  A.E. Jenkinson
S & W
8½d
53
£1- 17- 7
3d
4d
7d
5
  F Wilkins
S & W
1d
53
4s- 5d
 
 
 
 
 
 
  W. Ekins
S & W
5d
50
£1- 0- 10
3d
4d
7d
5
  R. Armstrong
S & W
1d
36
3s
 
 
 
 
 
 
  A Wildman
S & W
1d
14
1s- 2d
 
 
 
 
 
 
  G Hughes
Mains
40s
52
£2- 0- 0
3d
4d
7d
5
  J Gates
"
5d
51
£1- 1s- 3d
3d
4d
7d
5
  J Dickens
"
5d
36
15s
3d
4d
7d
5
  G Knight
"
5d
16½
6s- 11d
3d
4d
7d
2
2
4
  Hall
"
5d
16½
6s- 11d
3d
4d
7d
2
2
4
  G Bird
"
5d
16½
6s- 11d
3d
4d
7d
2
2
4
  E Knight
"
5d
16½
6s- 11d
3d
4d
7d
2
2
4
  G Britchford
"
5d
16½
6s- 11d
3d
4d
7d
2
2
4
   
 
 
 
£13- 4s- 10d
3s
4s
7s
2s 1d
2s 1d
4s 2d

The 3rd annual report dated February 1916 stated that there were now 79 consumers and the units sold were 56,993.

The 5th annual report showed that the number of consumers had increased to 151 and that the revenue from sale of current was £3060, a dividend of 5% was recommended.

The original generators - 125kw dc
Original 125 K W dc generators

The above photograph shows the two original Willans Robinson diesel powered 125kw DC generators together with a third set in the background, which was subsequently installed to cope with increased demand. The output from the generators was 420 volts between positive and negative for industrial power and 210 volts to what was known as the third wire (earth), for domestic use.

The DC switchboard
DC Switchboard
The output from the generators was fed on to the DC switchboard, shown above, with feeder cables eventually radiating out to High Street, Hayway, Wellingborough Road, Newton Road and Queen Street.

The generators were run throughout the day until the load decreased in the evening which enabled the town to be switched over to the battery, the generators then being shut down and the attendant went home.

Inside the battery room
Battery Room




The photograph (left) was taken inside the battery room which consisted of 240 lead acid cells in lead lined boxes approx. 18”x12”x18” to give 210volts and 420 volts, including end cells which automatically cut in as the voltage dropped. The battery was charged up the next day from the generators.


The Garret steam generator
David Jones with the Steam Generator





Subsequently as the demand again increased, the engine room was extended and a coal fired 115 kw. Garret steam powered DC generator was installed in an extension to the main engine room.


Around 1927 an 11,000 volt cable was laid from Hardingstone Generating Station Northampton to Wellingborough and on to Shirley Road Rushden to bring an alternating current (ac) supply. This enabled two 500 K.W. BTH rotary converters to be installed.

A view of the rotary convertor
The 500 kw rotary converter
500 kw Rotary Converter

Around 1935 as consumers were changed over to alternating current the demand for direct current reduced which enabled the diesel and steam generators to be removed, the d.c. being supplied by the rotary converters. Eventually the battery would not hold its charge and a rotary converter had to be run day and night.

Around 1960 all remaining d.c. consumers were changed over to a.c. supply and the rotary converters were removed.

With the introduction of alternating current into  the Rushden area cables were laid and overhead lines built to make supply available to surrounding villages including Oundle, Thrapston, Raunds and out as far as Harrold.

The premises of the Electric Supply Company in Shirley Road
Shirley Road works
This photograph shows the Shirley Road works which originally consisted of the engine room, battery room, offices, meter test room, showroom and resident engineers house. Eventually the showroom and offices moved into the High Street.

On 1st April 1948 the industry was nationalised and became known as the East Midlands Electricity Board.

On 1st April 1990 the industry was privatised and was then known as East Midlands Electricity plc., which became Power Gen. and was eventually taken over by E.ON.

In 1999 the Shirley Road engine room, battery room, offices and house were sold.
                                                                                                                 


Notices rescued from the building
when it closed in 1999
Regulations for safe working and information for
first aid should the need arise.

Memories of Engineering by H Packwood written in 1988:

Another phase of Rushden history was the building of the Local Electric Light Co. in Shirley Road.

Mr. Sammy Scragg and Mr. Sam Bailey arrived in Rushden in 1903 being qualified to do the wiring necessary to wire the factories.

The wiring used was known as capping and casing, the wire being in wood casing.

Mr. Sam Bailey on finishing the wiring etc. at B. Dentons, High Street (now demolished) was offered the position of engineer, which he accepted. This entailed looking after the Gas plant etc. and engines and the small tannery they owned in Rectory Road.

Mr. Sam Scragg then started the Central Electric Co in High Street South, he soon had plenty of work especially Government contracts.

On his death the business was transfered to W. Timson and W. Ekins and is now owned by W. Timson junior.

Click here to return to the main index of features
Click here to return to the History index
Click here to e-mail us