Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Dickinson Street Power Station

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Overview:
1893 Dickinson Street Station opened. Its engines were built by Musgrave and Ferranti, and its generators were made by the Electric Construction Co and Siemens Brothers. Other plant was provided by British Westinghouse and Galloway[1]

Detail: The following information is taken from 'Electricity in Manchester' [2] which devotes several pages this power station

Work began in 1892, and the station was officially opened on 31st July 1893. Total capacity was initially 1320 kW, and at first generation was only from 5 pm to midnight. On 24th September the system was shut down for a day to change from a two wire to a five wire system. This system was designed by Dr John Hopkinson and allowed consumers to choose between 100, 200, 300 and 400 volts DC.

Power was distributed by bare copper strip on porcelain insulators, laid in concrete conduits under the pavement, or where this was not possible, the conductors were insulated and ran in iron pipes 18" below the surface. In an effort to maintain dry conditions, air was blown through the conduits by a fan at the station. Even so, problems arose with insulation due to the build-up of salts.

Six Galloways boilers provided steam at 150 psi. Above the boiler house was a large steel water tank with a capacity of 205,000 gallons, made by John Lysaght.

The boiler house was served by a travelling electric crane made by Mather and Platt. This took coal from canal barges.

Initially there were four Galloways engines of 400 HP and six smaller Hornsby steam engines. Most of the electrical equipment was by Mather and Platt. Two main engines drove dynamos of the Edison-Hopkinson type, giving an output of 410 volts, 590 amps at 400 rpm. The two other engines drove dynamos with the same rating made by the Electric Construction Co. The Hornsby engines drove dynamos producing 590 amps at 102 volts.

By 1895 another ten engines and dynamos had been installed.

In 1897, when more capacity was needed, it was decided to sell the Hornsby/ECC sets and use the space for two Musgrave engines, each driving a 1500 kW dynamo (one Siemens Brothers and one ECC)

In 1899 major disruption ensued when the leather link belt on No. 10 engine failed. The flailing belt took out the engine’s governor, and the now-unloaded engine went into overspeed. The flywheel burst and fragments flew around the engine room and out through roof and windows. Two other engines suffered consequential damage to their flywheels.

By 1906 the main plant comprised:- Four Galloways/ECC (reciprocating engines) Two 1500 kW Musgrave - Siemens/ECC (reciprocating engines) Two 750 kW Ferranti/Westinghouse (reciprocating engines) Two 1800 kW Parsons turbine generators

1907 photo of engine room here (clickable thumbnail).

From 1911, low pressure steam was bled off the Parsons turbines for district heating purposes.

In the 1920s, generation was wound down and it became a sub-station (with rotating convertors rather than AC transformers, as the supply was still DC).

Dickinson Street’s burden was eased by the construction of Bloom Street Power Station next door.

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. Power Stations in Greater Manchester [1]
  2. 'Electricity in Manchester' by Roy Frost, published 1993 by Neil Richardson, ISBN 1 85216 075 6