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Location: Barnoldswick. Nearer to Heaven than Gloria.


Post by Stanley » 07 Sep 2018, 06:27


I never gave electricity a thought until 1953 when I went to work on a farm in Warwickshire which wasn't connected to the public supply. The farm had to have electricity to function and so they had their own generator powered by a Lister diesel engine in an outhouse in the yard. During the day it had to be started when needed and as the youngest I was instructed in how to start the engine using a crank handle on the flywheel. It was efficient and easily started and you soon got used to the bark of the engine running. Last thing at night before we all went to bed, it was my job to go out and stop it and I still remember how quiet it was when the engine fell silent.
Today, like the rest of you, I have the benefit of mains electricity and whilst we all complain about the cost, our homes couldn't function without it because everything apart from the heating, is powered by it. Think of all the devices you use and the shock when for some reason the supply is temporarily stopped. Only then do we get an idea of what it was like in the days before the mains. In the case of Barnoldswick and Earby this magical event was in September 1929 when the first customers, 230 of them, were connected. What I want to look at is how this came about.
As was the case with gas, the incentive for the first use of electricity was because it was a cleaner and more efficient source of lighting. There may have been private generators in use earlier but the first definite evidence I have comes from the mills. Moss Shed was built in 1900 and from the beginning was lit by 110volt DC current generated by a Royce Dynamo driven by the steam engine. In case you're wondering, yes, this is the Royce in Rolls Royce. Before Henry Royce went into partnership with the Honourable C S Rolls, he was a manufacturer of very good dynamos in Manchester. One further point, the machine used to generate Direct Current (DC) is a dynamo, the one used later for Alternating Current (AC), which is what we use today, was an alternator. The reason for AC being universal now is that for technical reasons it was far easier to send AC down long transmission lines than DC. For that reason, from the beginning in 1929 the public supply in Barlick and Earby was 240volt AC. That's all the technical information we need!
In 1920, when Bancroft Shed was opened it too had a 110volt DC dynamo for lighting and one small electric motor on the Barber knotting machine. Everything else was driven by shafting. At Moss Shed the engineer Stanley Fisher had a lucrative sideline charging accumulators for early wirelesses and at Bancroft there were crude batteries in the cellar which gave limited light when the engine was stopped and also supplied some local houses, mainly the Nutter families.


The later alternator at Bancroft installed after WW2.
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at talktalk.net

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