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British Industrial History

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Greenwich Power Station

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Greenwich Power Station.
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Greenwich Power Station is a power station on the River Thames at Greenwich in south-east London.

1902 The station was originally designed by the London County Council architects department, and built in two stages between 1902 and 1910, to provide power for the London Tram Network and London Underground which were being electrified at that time.

The station originally had a coal-fired boiler house and an engine room. This housed four compound reciprocating steam engines driving flywheel-type alternators with an output of 6,600 volts and 25 hertz.

By 1910 the advantages of steam turbines were well known and four steam turbine alternators were installed in the second stage of the station's building programme.

1922 The reciprocating engines installed during the first stage were replaced by steam turbines in 1922.

The two chimneys of stage one were 249 ft high but, following objections from the nearby Royal Observatory, the chimneys of stage two were reduced to only 180 ft height

1960s The steam turbines were replaced by Rolls-Royce gas turbine generators, used engines similar to those used in jet aircraft. These originally burned oil but were later converted to burn oil and gas. The generators are still housed in what was formerly the boiler house. They have a total capacity of 117.6 megawatts (MW), generated at 11,000 volts. This voltage can be increased to 22,000 volts for connection to the London Underground electricity system.

The station later became the backup station for Lots Road Power Station, which supplied the London Underground. However, Lots Road was decommissioned on 21 October 2002, whereas Greenwich has been refurbished, and is now powered by gas. Power for the London Underground now normally comes direct from the National Grid.

Coal was delivered to the large coal jetty in the river, which stands on 16 Doric-styled, cast iron columns. Coal was then sent to the white-painted storage bunkers on the west side of the station. The pier is no longer used


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