Electricity in Tadcaster

The first electricity

The earliest record of electrical power generation in Tadcaster was in 1885.  Milling was a dangerous process in that it produced a fine, flammable dust.  If the mill was lit by gas, the chance of an explosion was considerable.  It was for this reason that Ingleby’s installed at the mill, a small water driven generator to power electric lighting.

Power for the town

Power cables from the Mill to feed Tadcaster

Around 1900, John Henry Ingleby ceased milling at Tadcaster.  He was involved with John Smith’s Brewery in giving the mill a new lease of life as an electricity generating plant in the name of Tadcaster Electric Company.  It provided power at 230 volts d.c. to the town of Tadcaster.  In 1901, Tadcaster Electricity Company installed generating plant at the mill.

The Tadcaster District Electric Lighting Order, 1902 set out the area that the company was to supply and made provision for digging up streets to bury cables.

Electric street lamps started to appear around town, usually to the same design.  To the right is a picture of the lamp in Market Place.  It was an electric arc lamp.  In those days they were not aware of the ultra-violet rays that it would produce, but presumably, nobody stood too close to it for lengthy periods so it probably did not cause much harm.


The power generating equipment at the mill

In 1906 William Burrell took charge of the running of the Electricity Generating Station at Tadcaster. The station was recorded as being “run by steam, water, diesel engines and has a D.P. battery installed”. A “D.P. Battery” was a battery made by the Dujardin-Plante Battery Co.

John Ingleby sold his interest in the station to Tadcaster Electricity Co in 1920 to John Smith’s Brewery.

There was an additional generating plant for Tadcaster that followed the mill.  This was in the High Street in “Pick’s Yard”.  It was adjacent to the brewery and received steam for its turbine from John Smith’s.

In the 1920s a new building was constructed between the mill and former grain store to accommodate two rotary converters.  These took the a.c. supply from Yorkshire Electrical Power Co and converted it to d.c. to supplement the locally produced power.  The centre of Tadcaster remained on a d.c. supply until the early 1950s fed from these rotary convertors, which could be heard for some distance around.

In 1941 the Tadcaster Electricity Company became an independent concern.  It was recorded that the mill was leased from John Smith Brewery Company for a period of six years from the 1st January 1941 at a rent of £320. The premises occupied comprised the Generating Station, Water tank, Siding, Water supply and Heating plant.

The generating plant comprised one 340 KW. Mirrlees Diesel Set, one 170 KW Willans Diesel Set, one 140 KW Mirrlees Diesel Set and an 80 KW Water Turbine, making a total power output of 730 KW.  The 1941 agreement lists the equipment in considerable detail including “One Ash Barrow (worn out) for Boiler


In 1947, the electrical supply industry was nationalised and Tadcaster Electricity Company was absorbed into the Yorkshire Electricity Board.  In October 1955 the Central Electricity Authority gave notice of termination of their tenancy of the premises.

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