Electricity was first supplied to Southampton in 1891 by the Southampton Electric Lighting and Power Company, formed in 1888. In 1896 Southampton Corporation purchased the undertaking for £21,000 and extended the generating station which was then situated at Back-of-the-Walls to meet the growing demand. This original site soon proved inadequate for a number of reasons, the difficulty of delivering sufficient coal to an enclosed area, the lack of a water cooling facility and the lack of room for expansion being chief amongst them. In 1903-4 a larger power plant was built on reclaimed land on Western Esplanade, near to where the Toys R Us store now is (image below). The plant was demolished in 1977.

Power Station, Western Esplanade

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Photograph, c.1960, showing the power station on Western Esplanade.

Further reading:
Public Life in Southampton, Volume 2, by James Lemon, p157-58, 170-173, 230-239. (HS/l)
Southampton: A Civic Survey, by P. Ford (ed), p92-5. (HS/o)
Jubilee of the Electricity Undertaking, by The County Borough of Southampton. (HS/lm)


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