Generation: Centralisation and Conservatism (1948–53)

  • Leslie Hannah


Responsibility within the BEA for the design, construction and operation of power stations lay principally with Sir John Hacking, the deputy chairman with engineering expertise, and with the senior of the officers, V. A. Pask, the chief engineer, who like Hacking came from the CEB. The urgent problems of accelerating the construction programmes inherited in 1948 were being tackled, as we have seen, under Verity and Smith (pp. 23–8, above). The headquarters engineering department found, however, that for new stations it had to take on many more staff, both to develop its limited expertise in generation design, and to fulfil its function of coordinating the work of the fourteen divisions to which generation operations and construction had been decentralised. Most of the supply industry’s generating expertise had previously been in the larger power companies and municipalities (which had been in the forefront of developing the more advanced power stations), but the first power company engineer they recruited as head of generation design fell ill shortly afterwards and died.


Central Authority Load Centre Supply Industry Chief Engineer Coal Price 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    For a fuller account of Grid procedures, see A. R. Cooper, ‘Load Dispatching and the Reasons for it on the British Grid System’, Journal of the Institution of Electrical Engineers, vol. 95, part 2, 1948.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See e.g. V. F. Bartlett, ‘Power Station Design and Construction’, Proceedings of the Joint (Institutions of Electrical, Civil and Mechanical Engineers) Engineering Conference, 1951; Report on the British Electricity System by a Productivity Team from the US Electric Utility Industry, 1953. Some BEA engineers who visited the USA and Germany were impressed by the better scheduling, extra resources devoted to design, and personal responsibility for speed and economy in the smaller electric utilities common there.Google Scholar
  3. 7.
    L. Hannah, Electricity before Nationalisation: A Study of the Development of Electricity Supply in Britain to 1948 (London and Baltimore, 1979) ch. 4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 8.
    T. G. N. Haldane, ‘High Voltage Transmission in Great Britain’, Proceedings of the British Electrical Power Convention 1949. See also his presidential address in Proceedings of the Institution of Electrical Engineers, vol. 96, part 1, 1949.Google Scholar
  5. 9.
    Lord Citrine, Two Careers (1967) p. 279. See also D. P. Sayers, J. S. Forrest and F. J. Lane, ‘275kV Developments on the British Grid System’, Proceedings of the Institution of Electrical Engineers, vol. 99, part 2, 1952.Google Scholar
  6. 13.
    B. Donkin and P. H. Margen, ‘Economic Plant Sizes and Boiler Set Groupings on the British Grid’, Proceedings of the Institution of Electrical Engineers, vol. 99, part 2, 1952; Proceedings of the British Electrical Power Convention 1952, p. 434.Google Scholar
  7. 15.
    F. P. R. Brechling and A. J. Surrey, ‘An International Comparison of Production Techniques: The Coal-Fired Electricity Generating Industry’, National Institute Economic Review, no. 36, May 1966. France’s more rapid increase in average thermal efficiency was not only due to a more adventurous design policy, but partly also reflected her large (but limited) hydro-electric base, which meant that, for any given rate of growth, a higher proportion of the total steam plant on the French system would be of more modern design than in Britain. Similarly the high American thermal efficiencies were partly due to the minimal wartime distortions there.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Electricity Council 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leslie Hannah
    • 1
  1. 1.London School of EconomicsUK

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