Memories of Calderdale

Sowerby Bridge: The electricity supply


Geoffrey Siddall

During the 1920s and 1930s, electric supplies moved from the small generating plants to the Grid to get to the national standard we have at the present.

The generating units were usually only designed for the local township, and designed only for this. Standard voltages varied from town to town, even the supply could be AC or DC.

I came across an anomaly at the tail end of the war, On the Isle of Sheppey, when l was in the RAF, it was very common for the power station to generate DC current to excite the AC generators, and then sell the surplus to a small group of domestic consumers near the power station. I discovered this to my cost when my radio caught fire.

Generation was erratic particularly in the early years and industry tended to still rely on their own mill engines. However, the connection to domestic houses rapidly spread through the country and by the beginning of the War had covered most of the country especially in England.

The Soyland area in Calderdale was one of the few not connected to the grid and of course this was delayed by the war.

When I was in Ripponden – then an Urban District Council – the honour of switching on the Domestic power for the whole of Soyland came to Chairman of the Council, John Willy Berry. He was well thought of in the area and I never heard a wrong word about him, He was an ideal councillor and helped anyone who approached him. It was unfortunate that at the exact moment he switched on the lights for Soyland he put himself out of business as he sold paraffin to the whole of Soyland for their oil lamps

© Malcolm Bull 2021
Revised 10:26 / 30th May 2021 / 3374

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