New age of power generation
Further along the river from Greenwich, another power station was built at Deptford in 1889 by Sebastian de Ferranti. He was the chief engineer at the London Electric Supply Corporation.
|Aerial view of Deptford power station in 1925. © NMM|
It was the world's first modern high pressure power station. It introduced a new age in the scale and capacity of electricity generation.
The station was located on a 1.2-hectare (3-acre) site at the Stowage. It housed four 10,000- horsepower engines and four 500-ton alternators.
|Deptford power station in 1890. © NMM|
Originally, the building had two large chimneys, but these were later replaced by a single one. This sketch of the station was made in 1890. It shows the original chimneys and it also gives an indication of the pollution created by the station.
The electricity generated at Deptford was sent 11 km (7 miles) into the city by 10,000-volt cables. To produce this amount of power the station was burning more than 16,000 tons of coal a year by the mid-1890s. This photograph shows the generating equipment inside the station.
|Ferranti generator and Musgrove engines at Deptford. © NMM|
Although the station pioneered lots of important new ideas, the scheme was a commercial failure. This was because the number of consumers earmarked for the company by the Board of
Trade was far smaller than the company had expected. This meant that the proposed electricity generating capacity was much too large.
|Coaling plant and workshops at Deptford power station. © NMM|
At the same time, the designer's vision was too far in advance of its time, which led to problems with the generating and distribution equipment. This photograph is of the coaling plant and workshops at Deptford.
The London Power Company
In 1925 10 electric supply companies, including the London Electric Supply Corporation, merged to become the London Power Company. They immediately planned a new station at Deptford, on the dry docks, near Ferranti's building.
|Building work at the new Deptford plant, c. 1926. © NMM|
Leonard Pearce designed the new Deptford station and building began in 1926. This photograph shows the north chimney during construction.
|The coal store at Deptford. © NMM|
During the building of the new plant, which was known as Deptford West, five men were killed when a shaft ring fractured. The men were caught between tons of falling debris on one side and the river gushing into the tunnel on the other.
Despite this, the work was soon completed and, although there was a friendly rivalry between the two plants, they were actually both part of the same complex. This photograph is of the shared coal store for both Deptford East and West.
|Greenwich at low tide, showing Deptford power station in 1963. © NMM|
In 1948 nationalisation of the industry created the British Electricity Authority. They completed Ferranti's original work by creating a high-pressure extension to Pearce's design. This was the final extension to be built at Deptford, making it the second largest station in Britain.
|The demolition of Deptford power station in 1992. © NMM|
After 1957 the Ferranti building was taken out of use. It remained empty until it was demolished in the late 1960s.
The remaining buildings finally closed in October 1983 after problems with asbestos. It was also destroyed in 1992.
The site now forms part of the Millennium Quay development, consisting of 660 appartments. This picture shows the demolition of one of the chimneys at Deptford Station.