Power Stations and Substations

Banner

Introduction

Some of the photos in my grandfather's collection show tunnels and parts of electricity power stations or substations. Many of them were taken by Callender's Cables publicity department, but unfortunately they are not labelled with locations. I suspect that many of the photos on this page relate to the construction of 'Battersea A' Power Station but I cannot be sure.

Tunnels

For some cabling routes, e.g., between different buildings associated with power generation and distribution, many cables need to be installed and added-to over time. Tunnels are often the best answer despite the high construction costs. In the early 1950s when I was a child, and a long time before the days of 'Health and Safety', my father took me to work and through a tunnel that ran under the Grand Union Canal at Acton Lane power station connecting the two parts of the generation site. It was a strange experience; the cables gave off a gentle warmth and there was a deep and unearthly 50Hz mains frequency hum that was so strong you could feel it throughout your body. The tunnel looked very much like the photos below.


The next photo shows a cable tunnel carrying many cables on metal supports. It goes down then levels off and may be going under a wide road or watercourse - possibly even the River Thames. The tunnel is constructed just like those used for London tube trains but with a smaller diameter.

Tunnel
Cable tunnel at an unknown location [1]

The next photo is a level section of the same cable tunnel. The construction of high voltage cables was very complex and at this time cables would be impregnated with oil. If you look closely at the joints you will see small pipes entering them to maintain the oil pressure. Note that each cable joint has an individual number to assist planned maintenance.

Tunnel
Cable tunnel at an unknown location [1]

Substations and Power Stations

The next two photo show the lower levels of a sub-station or power station under construction. The passageway is lined with timber baulks and planks as shuttering to create reinforced concrete chambers to convey cables as shown in later photos. Note the rollers on the right which will be used to assist installation of cables.

Substation Substation
Underground passageway for cables at an unknown location [1]

The next photo shows various cables installed in a passageway similar to those shown in the preceding two photos. Some of the cables are joined in joint boxes known to Callender's staff as 'coffins' for obvious reasons. You can see the imprint of the wooden shuttering on the walls.

Substation
Underground passageway for cables at an unknown location [1]

The next two photos show a complex of cables of various sizes installed in what is presumed to be the basement of a power station or sub-station. Cables are separated by spacers to help keep them ventilated.

Substation Substation
Underground passageway for cables at an unknown location [1]

The next photo shows the installation of cables in an old power station or substation building. I wonder if this could be Bank Power Station? The far end of the chamber has a brick archway with the space under the arch closed off with corrugated iron sheets. In front of them are two wooden wheelbarrows. There is a pile of ducts on the left though it is not obvious why these would be required at this location. Given the sandbags and other junk lying around, perhaps this chamber had been used as a storage area. There is some kind of machine on the right, but I have no idea what it is. Two Callender's engineers or managers are posing by the works.

Substation
Cable installation in an old power station or substation [1]

The next photo shows a substantial building under construction. It is this photo that makes me think the others on this page relate to the construction of 'Battersea A' Power Station. Work started on Battersea A in 1929 and the steel frame was begun in October 1930, so this is the right timescale.

Substation
Power station construction - believed to be Battersea Power Station A [1]

The next page covers cable-laying at a number of locations that I have been unable to identify.