The Jersey Electricity Company in 1939

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The Queen's Road generators in 1939

From The Islander 1939

The opening of the new showrooms and offices of the Jersey Electricity Company on 10 January by Alexander Coutanche, Bailiff of Jersey. has a far wider significance than the provision of adequate and up-to-date accommodation in a central position. To quote the words of Jurat Edgar Dorey, Chairman of the board of directors, who presided at the ceremony, the occasion was a milestone in the progress of the company. Just what this means can best be indicated perhaps by a brief survey of the company’s history and present position.

Mr Burrell

History of electricity supply

Owing to its insular position, Jersey presents a rather unusual proposition from the point of view of electricity supply, and because of the large influx of visitors during the summer months, the native population of 50,000 is not a true indication of the number of people to be served. The principal town is St Helier, with a population of 25,000 and this forms the chief load centre. The supply to the outlying consumers calls for a comparatively extensive distribution system.

The concession for electrifying the town of St Helier was obtained by Crompton and Companyfrom the parish authorities in 1923, and the company set over Mr F M Burrell to carry out the original contract, which involved the erection of two diesel sets at the Albert Pier Power Station and the electrification of the chief streets of the town.

Mr Burrell stayed on when the Jersey Company took over the plant in 1925, and he has since been responsible, with the help of his chief assistant, Mr Longson, for the development of the company to its present stage.

An important event in the history of the company was the opening of the new and up-to-date power station at Queen’s Road in 1934. This entirely replaced the original Albert Pier station, except for two sets retained there for standby purposes. The new station, which is situated about 1½ miles from the centre of the town of St Helier, comprises:

  • Four 580 kW Mirrlees diesel sets with ECC Alternators
  • One 336 kW Mirrlees diesel set with Crompton Parkinson alternator
  • Two 550kW Mirrlees Crosshead sets with Crompton Parkinson alternators
  • One 960 kW Fraser and Chalmers set with GEC alternator
  • One 1150 kW Fraser and Chalmers set with GEC alternator
  • A further 1150kW Fraser and Chalmers set with GEC alternator is being installed this year.

The fuel oil for the engines is delivered by tankers and pumped in to storage tanks adjacent to the Harbour, from which it is carted by means of a saddle back tank which can be loaded on to any of the company’s lorries. to the additional storage provided at the power station site.

Owing to the high degree of humidity which is a characteristic of the climate of the island, particular attention has had to be given to the water cooling system. Fortunately the company was able to obtain the bulk of the water from two wells sunk on the site, the town supply being used only as a standby.

The new showroom which opened in 1939

Supply network

There are four outgoing feeders each 0.1 sq in 6600 volts from Queen’s Road station to the town of St Helier. Two of these are connected to the main distribution board at the Albert Pier station, where two standby generating sets are held available for use if required. The four other feeders radiating from the station are .06 sq in, 6600 volts. These take the supply to outlying districts and constitute two independent rings, each of which is again divided into two by a radial spur.

This arrangement provides a high degree of flexibility in the distribution system and is proving a very satisfactory layout.

The whole of the high tension system is underground, comprising about 64 miles of cable.

The low tension distribution system in the country area is practically all overhead. The lines are 4-wire (0.1 sq in conductors) with neutral at the bottom, mostly run on wood poles. An earth wire is provided on every fourth pole to improve efficiency in this respect where normal earthing is poor. This arrangement gives satisfactory results and, moreover, affords excellent protection against lightning. The total length of the low tension lines is about 120 miles.

Considerable difficulty was experienced in extending the concession for the whole island, but eventually a very satisfactory solution was found by the States of Jersey obtaining control of the company by purchasing the whole of the ordinary shares. This occurred in August 1936 and the development of the company has since been extremely rapid. Some 107 miles of cable have been laid; 26 sub-stations erected; four large engines added to the generating plant; and over 3,000 new consumers connected, bringing the total at the end of 1938 up to 9,003.

One interesting feature of the year’s working was the tremendous increase in the load during the cold spell at the end of December, which the island experienced in common with the mainland. The demand was no less than 120 per cent up, but this was met satisfactorily.

The well-equipped meter test room in 1939

Broad Street showroom and offices

We now come to the imposing new buildings in Broad Street which have just been opened. The architect entrusted with the design was Roy Blampied, who was also responsible for the design of the power station. In spite of difficulties occasioned by irregularities in the adjacent properties in Broad Street, he has produced an outstandingly successful design and the resulting building, though modern, does not clash with the neighbouring premises.

The showroom windows have been skilfully handled to give the maximum frontage and facilities for large scale window displays, whilst the main showroom is spacious. The delightful staircase effect at once catches the eye with its beautifulloy illuminated glass panels, and it is so cunningly disposed that it leaves the showroom and the entrance to the demonstration theatre beyond free of obstruction. The extremely tasteful colour schemes of the decorations are delightful, and are typical of the artistry evidenced on all sides.

The showroom fittings possess many unique features, particularly the display stands, which were designed in the company’s own drawing office. These can be used individually as wall stands, or assembled to form more elaborate display pieces. An ingenious grille device, several of which are disposed at convenient points on the showroom walls, makes it possible to demonstrate various types of fittings without disturbing the wall surfaces.

The showroom and demonstration theatre represent only a small part of the extensive buildings, which include boardroom, engineer’s office, numerous offices for the staff, telephone exchange, machine room, workshop and several separate storerooms containing a remarkably wide range of appliances and electrical equipment.

An interesting feature is the well-equipped test room, where every facility is provided for maintaining the accuracy of the company’s meters.

The Jersey Electricity Company has tackled its problems with thoroughness, making adequate provision to meet future demands and has done everything to ensure that domestic and industrial electrification shall continue without interruption. In fact, the electricity supply scheme in the island is a good example of what can be done when sound engineering is coupled with common sense.

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