The Road to Nationalisation

  • Leslie Hannah


While the country was facing the fuel crisis, the last battle for the ownership and control of the electrical industry had been fought on the political front.Vesting day, 1 April 1948, was to bring all the former company and municipal undertakings into full national ownership. The debate between capitalism and socialism was one in which the electricity supply industry was intimately and necessarily involved from its very beginnings, following Joseph Chamberlain’s decision to foster municipal enterprise in the early electricity legislation. By the inter-war years the debate on the merits and demerits of municipal ownership had been extended, as the technical economies of large-scale operation developed. Both companies and municipalities found that their franchised supply areas were too small for efficient operation. While in distribution a stalemate had been reached, the Central Electricity Board had overcome many of the problems of divided organisation and ownership on the generation side. Leaving the power-stations in the hands of their existing owners, the CEB none the less brought them under the effective control of the regional Grid centres, and, albeit at some cost in technical and commercial logic, achieved many of the desired reforms.


Electricity Supply Public Ownership Labour Party Supply Industry Conservative Party 
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Notes on the Text

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Copyright information

© The Electricity Council 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leslie Hannah
    • 1
  1. 1.Emmanuel CollegeCambridgeUK

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