Liverpool Mercury
Saturday, 30th January, 1897

The Electric Light In Wallasey
Opening Of The Central Supply Station

Wallasey has of late manifested a progressive spirit which tells in tones of eloquence the enthusiasm of its public men, and at the same time testifies to the wisdom of residents in that populous district who have selected representatives animated by the one desire of jealously safeguarding and advancing local interests. But recently news came concerning the inauguration of a scheme which promises to add a hundredfold to the attractions of New Brighton - a resort which is becoming more and more frequented by the toilers of Lancashire. and which, moreover, possesses a large and growing residential population. From its pleasant shore amy be viewed daily the majestic movements of the great Atlantic liners and the passage of vessels which carry the name of Liverpool to all the ends of the earth. All the most modern accessories of a popular holiday rendezvous are shortly to be added, and a more tangible claim may be then advanced by the locality to the title of "The Brighton of the North". Yesterday, however, marked the practical development of an enterprise equally creditable to those who reside in the district which comprises New Brighton, Egremont, Liscard, Wallasey, and Seacombe. About a year ago Mr. J.H. Crowther, the engineer and manager of the Wallasey District Council, submitted to the lighting committee of that body a scheme for the illumination of the neighbourhood - including the three ferries - by electricity, at an estimated cost of £12,500. The committee recommended the council to adopt the scheme, and although some members at first ridiculed the idea, and suggested that the estimate was likely to fall below the necessary expenditure by one-half, it was eventually adopted. Yesterday, members and officials of the local authority, accompanied by numerous friends. witnessed its successful consummation. Included in the party who assembled to see the light "switched on" were Messrs. C.G Dunn (chairman of the council), R.R. Greene (vice-chairman of the council), and W.G. Ellery (chairman of the gas, water, and electrical committee); Councillors Grace, Dr. Bristow, Bradford, W.F. Lee, J. Wright, Dr. Napier, F. Storey, J. Herron, G.J. Coombs, J. Robinson, J. Tipping, and T.V. Burrows; Messrs. W. Danger (clerk and solicitor), J.J. Burnley (accountant), J.H. Crowther (gas, water, and electrical engineer), J.A. Crowther (assistant electrical engineer), H.J. Woodfine (chief clerk), T. Moulding (assistant surveyor), W.E. Horsfall and R. Williams (committee clerks), Frederick Ash (sub-manager Wallasey Ferries), J.A. Orme (superintendent engineer Wallasey Ferries), Dr. Craigmile (medical officer), R.W. Preston, Squire Chapman, William Peskett, John Hughes, W.H. Crouch, S.G. Harrison-Dearle, J.D. Cockerton, R. Gracey, J. Ashley, Marsden, Charles Birchall, J.H. Jones, J.W. Ross-Brown. W.H. Cornish, jun., John Davies, Arthur Eillis (electrical engineer, Bolton), C.D. Taite (electrical engineer, Southport), C.J. Sutherland (electrical engineer, Hanley), C.J. Wilkinson (electrical engineer, Harrogate), R.C. Quin (electrical engineer, Blackpool), Isaac Carr (gas and water engineer, Widnes), G.H. Nisbett, J.D. Atherton, J. Atherton, J.H. Nisbett, J. Berry, Dr. Bicknell, Woodhouse. Cartwright (representing the contractors for cables), S.Z. de Ferranti, C.P. Sparkes, E.W Martin, Whiteford, (representing the contractors for engines, alternators, and switchboard), and Mr. J. Gourley (building contractor).

Vehicles were in readiness at Seacombe Ferry in the early evening to convey visitors to the Gasworks, Poulton, and thence to the supply station. The latter building, which adjoins the Liscard Pumping Station, had been gaily decorated with bunting, but the interior, dimly illuminated when the party arrived, was naturally cold and comfortless on an evening which rain and fog strove for supremacy.

There was indeed a craving for light among the visitors, as they anxiously awaited the ceremony of the evening. Mr. C.G. Dunn (chairman of the district council) led up to it with a few appropriate observations. Many of those present, he remarked, might remember the discouraging comments which were made when gas was first introduced to Wallasey. It was then predicted that, because the district was so scattered, the gas supply would never become a paying concern. Results proved, however, that those prognostications lacked verification, as there was annually a large surplus of profit for application to reduction of the rates. (Applause). There might be some that evening who imagined that the electric light would not be a financial success because of the same reason - ("no" - but he trusted that their fears could prove equally unfounded. (Hear, hear). In conclusion, the speaker paid a high tribute to the energy, foresight, and ability of Mr. Ellery, whom he requested, amid applause, to formally switch on the electric light.

Mr. Ellery, who received a further ovation as he ascended an improved platform, said they were present to demonstrate in a practical way that Wallasey district was not behind the times. Some twelve months ago their able and esteemed engineer submitted to the lighting committee a modest, inexpensive scheme to provide a trunk line for the district, and especially to light the three ferries, at the request of their good friend, Captain Herron. The estimated cost of the scheme was £12.500, and the committee, after anxious and careful consideration, decided to recommend its adoption. He should not, however, forget the reception it met with at the hands of the council. The estimated cost was ridiculed, many members going so far as to say that the scheme would incur double the outlay stated. Nevertheless, the scheme was passed, and now, within twelve months, he hoped to show it was an accomplished fact. (Applause). He wished to add, to the credit of their engineer, that the cost amounted to £10,483 - or something like £2000 below the estimate. (Applause). This was an unique financial experience for a public body, and one of which they were proud. (Applause). On behalf of the district council, he had the honour and pleasure of switching on the electric light, which he was satisfied would eventually return a handsome dividend to the ratepayers.

Amid loud cheers and the enthusiastic waving of hats, Mr. Ellery placed his hands upon the magic switch. The effect was gradual. At first the sinuous wires in two tiny test lamps glowed red, and then, as the dynamos put forth increased power, two large arc lamps shed a steady and powerful light upon the interior, and cheering was again vociferously raised. There are two of Ferranti's dynamos in the station, and these supply the current direct to the ferries, and private consumers, the accumulator system being regarded as extravagant because of the necessary initial outlay and the evitable leakage. There are at present about 30 private consumers who will bring into requisition the full power of this plant, and in all probability tenders will shortly be invited for apparatus of double capacity. The generating station adjoins the Liscard Pumping Station, and advantage has been taken of the plant already erected on the site - the boilers, boiler house, and chimney shaft - which have proved to be of material assistance to the electric supply, without, in any way, curtailing the work plant of the pumping station. The saving effected on this head will amount to about £3000. Apart from the advantages derived from the plant already on the site, the piece of land on which this building stands may be considered as the most centrally situated in the whole district, and a more suitable place it would be very difficult to find. The system of supply is that known as the "high tension"; that is, the voltage of the station is 2000, whilst by means of transformers in the district the voltage is reduced to about 100, at which it is supplied to consumers. There is, consequently, no more danger to those using the light than there would be on the low tension system, whereas to have adopted the latter in a district such as Wallasey would have meant three districts and separate generating stations with, of course, the requisites plant, the outlay for which, apart from any first cost, may be safely be placed at £25,000 or £30,000. The plant here is capable of generating electrical energy for 5000 eight C.P. lamps, but, as it is impossible to run the whole of the plant constantly, the station is what one might call equal to a supply of 2500 eight C.P. lamps, leaving in reserve plant capable of continuing the full supply in the event of a breakdown. The building is 54 feet long by 28 feet wide, and is sufficiently large to take 2-75 kilowatt and 1-20J kilowatt steam alternators with switch board, and two sets of condensing plant. Preparation has also been made for the overheard travelling crane to lift five tons, and the building is so designed that it may be extended at a minimum cost to take in 2-200 kilowatt sets. Further preparation has been made for the erection of an additional boiler house, as well as stores and offices. The mains consist of about six miles of high tension, armoured, concentric paper insulated cables, tested to 10,000 volts, and about one and a-half miles of low tension cable of similar manufacture, tested to 2500 volts. These are laid direct into the ground, and, as a further protection, a line of bricks is placed over the cables. The engines are of a vertical type, compound condensing, capable of developing 125 I.H.P. each, and are directly coupled on to fly-wheel alternators.

The committee, as already foreshadowed, intend to put in hand without delay the extension of the present generating plant, and expect during the approaching winter to put forth a supply equal to 5000 eight C.P. lamps.

From the supply station the party drove to the Victoria Hotel, New Brighton, where they were interested to note a satisfactory display of the newly-introduced illuminist. Here dinner was daintily served, and at its conclusion an interesting toast list engaged attention. Eulogistic, but well-merited, references were made to the skill, efficiency, and energy of the engineer and manager, Mr. Crowther; the local patriotism and foresight of the chairman of the Electric Supply Committee, Mr. Ellery; the progressiveness of the district council, the promptitude and efficiency of the contractors, and the several and collective merits of neighbouring municipal electrical authorities.

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