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What is this building near Old Oak Common?


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Posted (edited)

Hmmm ...... no sub shown at our location.

 

But, I think this only shows LT-owned subs - the ones on the Watford DC which were owned by LNWR/LMS aren’t shown, for instance, so this one may have been feeding the E&SB, but not be shown because it belonged to GWR.

 

Otherwise, GWR only until the new works extension, then intake point for 22kV and substation for CL?

Edited by Nearholmer
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Posted (edited)
On 08/06/2020 at 19:15, Nearholmer said:

I ought to know for sure, having overseen the renewal of a large section of the power system in the late 1980s-early 1990s, but I'm fairly certain that the Central line Western Extension was always supplied from the Grid at 22kV from Acton Lane.

 

PS: Ah, but I'm thinking only of the "New Works Scheme" extension of the late-30s ........... The Ealing & Shepherds Bush Extension came before that, shortly after WW1. Was this building the power supply for that? More delving needed!

 

The 1894-1913 date fits, because the CLR "join-up" and electrification had been planned from 1905, was authorised by the CLR Act 1911, but completion was delayed by WW1, and its in exactly the right location.

 

This is rather nice, dating from 1920:

 S5dE1CCosUM2emqMsV0R474sAvBaegfY33czHb8O

 

 

YES.  The Ealing & Shepherds Bush Railway was fed from the substation (the one in the picture) at Old Oak Common.  This controlled the power supply, which was turned off at night,  after trains had finished running,  for the whole of the E&SBR  split into two main sections - one from Old Oak substation to Ealing Broadway (which had two subsections) and the other from the substation to Wood Lane (which had no subsections and was therefore entirely controlled by the substation operator).  However the latter section could have partial isolation of one line or the other using the cross switches between them.

 

What I don't know is when teh substation ceased to supply what became the Central Kine but it was very definitely in use through the 1960s (it even had its own siding - which I can remember seeing  from passing trains) and i believe it also supplied current to teh WR side in later years but can't confirm that.

 

The Hammersmith & City was fed from Bouverie Street (LT) substation to its boundary with the Royal Oak substation at the west end of Paddington Suburban Station but I don't know where royal Oak's western boundary was (I don't have teh relevant LT document)

 

Source of teh above information - relevant GWR (E&SBR) and BR WR publications.

Edited by The Stationmaster
Correction, thanks Nearholmer
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Are there any clues on the opening and life of the GWR generating station at Park Royal?

 

As noted earlier, there was a GWR sub-station at Shepherd's Bush, dealing with the Hammersmith end of the Joint line and in modern times I believe the next sub-station along is Royal Oak.  So, though Jackson's book on the Metropolitan, with good archive sources, suggests OOC was involved in feeding to the line, it may either be wrong information or a reflection of changed system design over time.

 

A small aside - I believe that the Bouverie Place site originated as a small two-road steam shed.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, The Stationmaster said:

Alas no.  The Ealing & Shepherds Bush Railway was fed from the substation (the one in the picture) at Old Oak Common.


Alas, yes, then, because that’s what I’ve been suggesting.

 

Many thanks for confirming.

 

I have an inkling that it ceased to feed the line from c1990 when we renewed all of the western substations on the Central Line, but I will try to confirm.

Edited by Nearholmer
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1 hour ago, Engineer said:

So, though Jackson's book on the Metropolitan, with good archive sources, suggests OOC was involved in feeding to the line, it may either be wrong information or a reflection of changed system design over time.

 

It may be that the high voltage AC supply to Royal Oak and Shepherds Bush Substations supplying the H&C was via the site at OOC that we are talking about, so "involved", but not providing a DC feed direct to the tracks.

 

I've now found a reference to "our" building in the Engineer, in a short article about the opening of the E&SB:

 

"The new railway, as will have been gathered, will be electrically operated. Power is supplied from Park Royal through the Old Oak Common sub-station to a centre conductor rail, the running rails being used for the return. The rolling stock will be provided by tho Central London Railway, and will run through between Liverpool-street and Ealing."

 

So, the generating station behind all this was the GWR one at Park Royal, not either of the "public" ones that I postulated.

 

Now to attempt to find a good description of Park Royal GS, which is not one I know anything about.

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Posted (edited)

OK, very brief description of Park Royal in The Engineer 1911 Electric Traction Supplement:

 

"The Great Western Company's power-house is situated at Park Royal. Current is supplied from this station at a pressure of 6600 volts to three substations. Here it is transformed and converted into direct current at a pressure of 600 volts for traction and at a pressure of 110 volts for lighting. An interesting point in connection with this line is the use of Peebles motor converters in the sub-stations. The illustration, Fig. 20, shows six of these machines in the Royal Oak Substation ......"

 

The three substations would be Old Oak Common, Shepherds Bush and Royal Oak. I read the rest of the article to imply that the generating station was opened at roughly the time of the H&C electrification in 1906.

 

The "Fig 20" mentioned shows the rotary converters arranged exactly as I postulated when talking about the urbex building, which I am more and more convinced is "ours". Quite why the correspondent felt that Bruce Peebles converters were special, I'm not sure - maybe he is subtly making the point that they are "all British", whereas previous ones were to US designs. They actually look a bit basic, a motor, and a generator, coupled together, whereas the US ones had the two sets of windings interlaced/overlain to make a single compact machine.

 

EDIT: Further delving suggests that, yes, the converters wereindeed 

quite interesting, being something called "La Cour machines", in which the motor is cascade-connected to the generator to give a self-regulating characteristic. More work needed to understand the detail, because I can only find a description in German for now. Half an explanation here on Wikipedia in English (i'm not at all convinced by the size claim) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cascade_converter

 

 

Edited by Nearholmer
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21 hours ago, Nearholmer said:

The urbex building could be this one, and if it is it looks like a typical early 1900s substation or small generating station. The beams high-up along the building would originally have carried a crane, for shifting heavy parts of turbo-alternators and/or rotary converters (effectively motor generators that were used to convert AC to DC before more modern rectifiers), which would have sat in the centre aisle. The switchgear looks like 1930s DC gear to me, and where it is positioned looks like it may have been either dumped there or fitted there after conversion of the site to more modern rectifiers. If only we could read the designation plates, we could be sure where this is.

 

I reckon the switchgear is dumped where it is after all the more valuable metals had been stripped out. There was a lot of copper in there once.

It does all have a familiar look to it, so I would say yes the Urbex building is the same one. I visited when it was still operational, that was some time up to 1984 at the latest. If I find my training log book, I could say for sure.

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La Cour stirs the memory cells for me, too, somewhere in distant past technical reading.

 

An aside, I wonder if the electrified Addison Road spur warranted an additional feed. 

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I like the use of the term 'pressure' instead of voltage - when did 'voltage' become the norm?

presumably the earlier terms are due to the perceived similarity to fluid flow?

voltage = pressure, current = flowrate

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Posted (edited)

Yes, the early terminology was inspired by fluids, and and at a very early stage, up to as late as the 1880s. electricity was spoken of as "the electrical fluid". Early language also differentiated carefully between static and dynamo electricity. The names of the units took ages to settle-down; I've got old text books that take some careful following because all the units "have the wrong names".

 

I'm fairly sure that the key safety legislation, the Electricity (Factories Acts) Special Regulations 1944 perpetuated the use of "pressure" in a formal sense until they were repealed by the Electricity at Work Regulations in 1989, because they leaned heavily on The Electricity Regulations 1908, but "tension" (quite widely used in the 1920s and 30s) and then "voltage" (imported from the US during WW2 possibly?) were in common use for a long time before 1989. 

 

"Voltage" is a colloquialism really, I suppose, in the same way that "amperage" is, but the proper term "potential difference" is a mighty old mouthful.

 

The French use the word "tension", and the Germans "spannung", also meaning tension, so they don't mix-up the term and the units as we do.

Edited by Nearholmer
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Thanks everyone again for the flood of information. When I asked the question I hadn't expected to open (in a good way) such a fascinating can of worms. This building has been an itch it has taken 40 plus years to scratch!

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Having delved a certain distance in my junk heaps, here is an extract from an LU DC sectionalisation diagram dated 1991, showing the pre-works-underway arrangement in the area under discussion, confirming my dim recollection that OOC sub was still in use then.

 

82E95CAB-B459-4686-B84D-F88923635F58.jpeg.c0a789f76ff955b2d93687870a4ba54a.jpeg

 

So far, I can’t find a detailed high voltage distribution diagram, but the very high-level one that I have does confirm that supply was at that date from Acton Lane Grid BSP (the former Acton Lane power station site), with distribution at 22kV, I think from two 66/22kV transformers.

 

The trouble with these old power supply configurations is that so many alterations have been made down the years and that, unlike the tiniest tweaks to steam locos, they aren’t recorded in ‘enthusiast books’; some are in published technical papers, but many now only in the brains of the engineers who worked on them.

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Another micro-snippet is a line in an article by Mike Horne for the LURS, where he says that the earlier GWR power station, closer to Paddington was in the way of track widening work, which was part of the reason for selecting a new site and building an expanded generating station at Patrk Royal. 
 

Could this thread be re-titles something like “Early GWR Electrification & Power Supply”? I suggest this, because it is an ‘underdone’ subject, with many people claiming that the GWR had no electrified lines.

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Posted (edited)

If the mods agree I would be happy to see the thread renamed as Nearholmer suggests. My original question has been answered and the discussion has clearly widened out somewhat.

Edited by Will Crompton
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Still looking for more info, i came across this page:

https://web.archive.org/web/20131008211228/http://www.engrailhistory.info/r006.html

(via Wayback Machine as original page doesn't seem to work)

Slightly OT as it deals with Lots Road but interesting anyway.

 

The site has contemporary articles from the 1930s, so make for interesting reading, detailing what was often the cutting-edge technology of the day!

Railways: https://web.archive.org/web/20130529200202/http://www.engrailhistory.info/rpindex.html

Engineering: https://web.archive.org/web/20130511074210/http://www.engrailhistory.info/epindex.html

Edited by keefer
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19 hours ago, Nearholmer said:


Alas, yes, then, because that’s what I’ve been suggesting.

 

Many thanks for confirming.

 

I have an inkling that it ceased to feed the line from c1990 when we renewed all of the western substations on the Central Line, but I will try to confirm.

Duly corrected.  I think the date of the substation going completely out of use was definitely in the 1990s but I'm not sure when it ceased to supply its original area on the E&SBR

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Dim recollections again, but IIRC, we upgraded a ‘sectioning hut’ at North Acton to become a proper track-paralleling hut;  added rectifier capacity at Wood Lane sub; put the new sub at Brentham closer to North Acton than the earlier one; and, reconfigured the 22kV circuits, which between them allowed OOC to be dispensed with, probably c1993-4.

 

This area and an area near Leyton were a bit “on the edge” in capacity terms, prone to low voltages and breaker tripping once the full new train service came on, even after upgrade, and I think they have been further reinforced since.

 

Back to Park Royal: from what I can discern, the generating station was described in Railway Gazette and Engineering in 1906, neither of which I have access to, and I can't find it in The Engineer (it might be hiding, though!).

 

Earlier GWR generating stations: an experimental/demonstration/prototype set-up provided at Paddington by Anglo-American Brush in 1880, supplying 37 arc lamps, also mentioned as "Christmas Lights", so whether they went on at Christmas or were especially for Christmas I'm not sure. Larger installation in a new power station at Westbourne Park in 1886, supplying lighting to Paddington station, the goods depots, OOC, and I think the hotel. Decommissioned c1906 when load was transferred to Park Royal.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Nearholmer
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On 10/06/2020 at 05:19, keefer said:

Still looking for more info, i came across this page:

https://web.archive.org/web/20131008211228/http://www.engrailhistory.info/r006.html

(via Wayback Machine as original page doesn't seem to work)

Slightly OT as it deals with Lots Road but interesting anyway.

 

The site has contemporary articles from the 1930s, so make for interesting reading, detailing what was often the cutting-edge technology of the day!

Railways: https://web.archive.org/web/20130529200202/http://www.engrailhistory.info/rpindex.html

Engineering: https://web.archive.org/web/20130511074210/http://www.engrailhistory.info/epindex.html

Those links are really interesting,  thanks.

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I remember seeing this building when I started commuting into Padd in 1968. It definitely had a siding then because there was a small industrial shunter (about Peckett sized) always in there, bunker outwards. Probably dumped but I could never get a good look from a moving DMU.

 

steve

Edited by steve1
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Just an aside:  I've now found where I first read about La Cour converters - 'Steam to Silver', J. G. Bruce, 1969ish first edition.  There are only a few sentences on the machines.  More relevant to this topic, there is a mention of the GWR's H&C line tracks and substations being vested with London Transport from Nationalisaton, 1 January, 1948.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Discussion with a retired colleague has provided an additional early source that discusses H&C electrification and covers the power aspects in some detail:  Railway Magazine December 1906.  Haven't been able to see the article directly.

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