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Newton Abbot Power Station

A View from Brunel Road - 1962

 

  This section of the web site records my memories of the electricity generating station that was located on Teign Road (Opposite Tuckers Maltings) in Newton Abbot, Devon. The very early days have been compiled from records at the Newton Abbot Museum and my memories of the power station. If you have 'facts' please feel free to email me. I was based at the station from September 1958 to May 1965.
   
  Generating capacity was established at the Teign Road site around 1898 and was steam driven with the station being located almost adjacent to the rail head (each small town established their own independent generating station fuelled by coal, coal gas or water during this period). In 1958 when I joined the station there was a triple stage 'Bellis and Morecombe' reciprocating steam engine driving a 200 kw DC generator still in situ, but not generally used, from those early days. This was connected to an open 500 Volt DC Switchboard constructed on huge slate panels. This machine was removed when the station was demolished and it is understood was transferred to the Science Museum. Continuous DC (Direct Current) supplies were maintained from the mid twenties onward by Rotary Converters until the station decommissioned. DC was used to supply the riverside DC pumps and some station auxiliaries. There were one or two feeders to local hotels relying on the DC supplies to power lift motors. These were ceased in the mid sixties. 
   
  Through what can only be described as a continuous development the Wharf Road/Teign Road site witnessed the separate build of four power stations. A DC station between 1898 and 1923 followed by three major phases introducing AC generation which can be viewed as the mid twenties, the early thirties and the mid forties. The three phases were referred to as Newton Abbot LP, MP and HP - Low, Medium and High Pressure boiler and steam conditions. The site was decommissioned in the mid seventies and is now housing.
   
  Following a visit to the Newton Abbot Museum a document was located that set down considerable detail about the Power Station. The document was prepared by the Borough of Torquay in 1929 and provides much information about the developments at that time. It envisages the station capacity moving to 37,000 kw and possibly 100,000 kw at some time in the future. The contents are summarised in the section titled 'Timeline'.
   
  Prior to Nationalisation in 1948 - when the Central Electricity Board CEB was formed - the station was owned and operated by the Torquay Corporation. The original Torquay generating station (AC) was established in 1898 at Beacon Quay on the Harbour side at Torquay and ran out of development space around 1920. The Torquay Borough Engineer established a plan that would eventually take over the Newton Abbot site and develop it for the Torquay Corporation and surrounding communities. The original station at Newton Abbot was owned by the Urban Electricity Supply Company. Ownership transferred initially to Newton Abbot and from them to the Torquay Corporation in 1923. The development of the Wharf Road site to include AC generation commenced based on plans and contracts established between 1920 and 1923. At this time there were no national standards for voltage and frequency as each station maintained local supplies only.
   
  In 1934 the first steps in establishing an interconnected grid reached Newton Abbot with single connections from Exeter and onto Plymouth - see diagram
   
  In 1961 a station open day was held and the poster at the main gate proudly proclaimed the basic statistics - 'The maximum output from this station is 52,000 kilowatts burning 37 tons of coal an hour to turn 592,000 lbs of water into steam EVERY HOUR'. The poster was painted by Bill Groves the Instrument mechanic.
   
 

   
  In the following pages other information is given covering each aspect of the station hopefully representing a little piece of history reasonably faithfully.

Up Timeline GenCap The DC Supplies LP Section 1920 Plant Specs MP Section HP Section NAGS Control Room Power System Picture Gallery 1960's Names