Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Electrifying Auckland, 1908-1925

A good summary here from the NZ Herald, 4 May 1925, of the initial steps taken to bring electricity to Auckland homes last century.

The completion of large extensions to the Auckland Electrical Power Board's main section on King's Wharf, together with the completion of the board's new offices in Quay Street, will bve marked on Wednesday by an official opening ceremony. This has been arranged in order that members of the public may have an opportunity of seeing for themselves the development in the board's activities which has taken place in the last few years, and may obtain an accurate idea of the scope of the present operations.

It is now 19 years since the question of commencing an electrical supply in Auckland was first raised, and in the early part of 1908 the City Council opened a power station in Freeman's Bay on the destructor site. The station was run in conjunction with the destructor department, and the plant consisted of two steam generators of 300 hp each. When the station was opened, mains had been laid in about a dozen of the principal city streets, while 105 applications had been received. Development was limited by the size of the station, and for some years the demand was not very great, but in 1909 the City Council decided to build a complete new station on the waterfront next to King's Wharf, and this was formally opened in 1913.

The next feature in the growth of electricity in Auckland was the generating of the whole of the electrical requirements of the city and suburbs from the King's Wharf station, and this meant the closing down of the tramway power house in Hobson Street as a generating station. This was done in 1920.

A most important proposal was made in the following year, when it was suggested that the city and the surrounding local bodies should amalgamate and form one Power Board to control the whole area. The City Council's plant was purchased by the new board, which first sat in April, 1922.

The tremendous task of reticulating its area was then commenced by the board, as the system at that time extended only through the city area and in a small portion of Mount Eden. A loan of £600,000 [around $45.5 million today] was authorised and now supply is available throughout practically the whole of the city area, Mount Eden, Mount Albert, One Tree Hill, Ellerslie, Newmarket, Onehunga, a large section of Mount Roskill and Avondale, while work is proceeding in Mangere, Point Chevalier, New Lynn, Penrose, Otahuhu and outward toward the southern boundary of the district.

The hydro-electric supply from Arapuni is expected to be available in three years' time, but the board has been forced to make further extensions to the plant owing to the rapidly increasing demand for power. This additional plant had been delivered and erected at the main station, and it is anticipated that the 33,500 horse-power from the station, together with a supply of 5500 horse-power fromm Horahora, will be sufficient until the Arapuni current arrives.

The cost of the King's Wharf station and equipment is 530,000, and the maximum output at any one time recorded to the present is 17,500 horse-power. There are three 500 kilowatt units, one 3000, and the old plant of 5000. The present load is about 14,000 kilowatts, but the station has a capacity of 20,000 kilowatts.

The electrical power is transmitted from this station to various outlying sub-stations in the case of alternating current, and in the case of the direct supply current by means of feeders to points on the network. Work is already in hand to alter the design of the distribution system for the area in which direct current is supplied, and ultimately each sub-station will feed its separate and defined areas.

One of the best and most up-to-date sub-stations of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere is that at Hobson Street, which was the original generating station for the city tramways. The other sub-stations are at Kingsland, Newmarket, Epsom, Ponsonby and Penrose. The last named is the main Government sub-station to receive power from Arapunui. A site has been secured in Beresford Street for a new sub-station.

The board is now supplying over 22,500 customers, and new services are being connected at a rate of 120 per week. The new offices close to the main station are now in occupation, a cash-receiving office and showroom has been opened in Wellesley Street and other offices have been opened at Onehunga and Otahuhu.

10 comments:

  1. Well how fortuitous! I just photographed the grave at Purewa Cemetery last week of Mr. Alexander Wyllie,B.A., B.SC., M.I.E.E.
    1st General Manager Auckland Electric Power Board who died 6th June 1925 aged 56 years.

    Great post!
    Sandy

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  2. Oh, my word -- that happened a month after the article! Would you mind, Sandy, if I used your photo (with credit) along with the articles you found in a separate post? I'll be in the library later this week -- I'll see what the Herald and Star said as well.

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  3. Very good timing! ;-)

    No problems at all Lisa, go for it! Only too glad it can be used for something.

    I felt quite sad at the condition of the grave :-(

    Cheers and have a great day..looks like another scorcher!

    S

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  4. Awesome, Sandy. Watch this space!

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  5. oh... you do realise there are two photos of the grave? One beside the other in that flickr set. The other is a close up of the stone. Feel free to use both.

    Cheers
    S

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  6. !!!

    I guess I was so struck by the grave's condition, I didn't notice the other photo. D'oh! :-)

    Cool - both would be great (might head in today, I'll see how things go ...)

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  7. :-)
    I always do a distance and a close up shot of pretty much all my headstones. The odd one i don't have too but i find the surrounding of the stone as interesting as the stone itself. Sometimes i can't help myself..i take more!

    Cheers
    S

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  8. I do similar, usually the whole grave, then a close up so my ageing eyes back home can make out which is which ...! :-)

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  9. I loveeee digital photography :D sure the hell saves you carting around notebooks and pens!

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  10. I still do cart around a notebook, pens and pencils (I need the notebook and pencils at the Museum Library, still, for instance) -- but digital photography is replacing a lot of the old drudgery, yes.

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