Reasons for Designation
Electricity is generated by the motion of a wire coil within a magnetic
field, the motion being provided by a turbine driven by steam, water or
combustion. Early uses of electricity, for telegraph systems, lighthouses
and electrical devices in mines, followed soon after Michael Faraday's
discovery of magneto-electric induction in 1831. It was not until the
1870s, however, after technological developments in Britain, USA, Germany
and France, that electricity started to be used on a large scale, for
public lighting, industrial machinery and (by the 1890s) trams and
Early electricity generation took place in small isolated power houses,
often dedicated to individual country estates, wealthy urban housing
estates, industrial sites, hospitals or lighthouses. Most were coal fired,
but in rural areas there was also significant use of hydro-electrics. From
the 1890s, large central power stations were built to generate power for
transmission over wide areas to multiple users, although (as industry
adopted electricity more widely) some collieries, textile mills and steel
works built their own power houses. Fuel sources became more diverse,
including gas, hydro-electric and refuse destructor heat, but coal
remained the dominant fuel.
Electricity generating and distribution buildings of the 19th and early
20th century display a great variety of architecture and design. In the
countryside, existing buildings tended to be used, often water mills
adapted for hydro-electric use. In urban areas power houses were usually
purpose-built, and frequently in flamboyant and distinctive architectural
styles that reflected municipal or company pride, and made statements
about investment and technology as well as civic and commercial rivalry.
A period of rationalisation after 1919 led to the creation of the national
grid. Many of the smaller, isolated power stations were closed down in
favour of fewer, larger stations. The newly-formed Central Electricity
Board purchased electricity from both private and public generating
companies and distributed it through a single, centrally-controlled
national network. The pylons that supported the new grid's overhead cables
rapidly became a national icon of modernity and change.
In 1948 the electricity industry was nationalised, and the national grid
was extended to cover almost the whole country. Larger generating stations
were built, first fuelled mainly by coal, later by nuclear fission, and
most recently (especially after de-nationalisation in 1991) by gas. The
modern industry is also developing the use of `new' fuels, such as refuse,
wind, sun and sea-waves.
Following a national survey of the industry's buildings and sites, around
120 examples illustrating the history and diversity of the industry
have been identified as being of national importance. Together these
represent the industry's chronological depth, technological range and
regional diversity. All will be considered for protection.
The hydro-electric power house and associated weir 250m north west of Tin
Bridge at Linton survives well and evidence of the technological processes
involved can be clearly seen and understood. In addition the site benefits
from comprehensive details of the operating company's history which
demonstrates the manner in which small rural companies were administered,
financed and operated.
The monument includes standing remains of a hydro-electric power house. It
is located on the west bank of the River Wharfe, 600m south west of
Grassington. The monument includes both the ruins of the structure and an
associated weir crossing the river.
The first power house was built over the washout sluice on the upper weir
of Linton water mill. Linton Mill and a second weir were located some 250m
downstream. The power house was built by the Grassington Electric Supply
Company Ltd.(GESCL) which was formed in June 1909 to provide an
electricity supply to the area. The company leased the upper weir from the
owners of Linton Mill, which had been built to control water supply for
the mill and was in existence before 1852.
Contemporary photographs show that the first power house included a wooden
building with a corrugated iron roof standing on a stone built
sub-structure containing a single turbine pit. It was fitted with a Gordon
water turbine with a 20KW generator. Cables crossed the river to a
distribution board and power was thence distributed to consumers by cables
attached to chimney brackets.
Demand for electricity rose and in 1910 Grassington Parish Council
replaced its 24 street oil lamps with electric light and by 1912 the
Wesleyan chapel had also installed electricity. Power was also extended to
the neighbouring township of Threshfield. To meet growing demand GESCL
started to buy electricity from Linton Mill where a new large turbine and
generator had been installed for use at the mill following a fire in 1912.
In the same year the central portion of the upper weir was swept away by a
flood and GESCL relied entirely on the mill turbine until the weir was
repaired the following year. As a result an oil engine was purchased as a
back up power source.
Company records show that despite rising numbers of customers profits were
not good, the supply was unreliable and the distribution system was
deteriorating. The company purchased a suction gas engine and a
replacement 40KW dynamo to try to improve capacity but continued running
Reluctant to rely too much on power purchased from the mill turbine and in
increasing financial difficulties GESCL went into liquidation in 1921. The
assets were purchased by the Linton Mill company and a new company was
formed; The Craven Hydro-electric Supply Company Ltd. The new company
invested in new generating plant, at both the upper weir power house and
at Linton Mill. At the upper weir a new power house was constructed,
comprising a concrete turbine block supporting a brick built generator
house. It contained three turbine pits, which housed two new vertical
turbines of 75hp and 50hp, as well as a new generator. The new company
continued to provide power to the area until nationalisation of the
electricity industry in 1948.
The surviving remains of the upper weir power house are of the 1920s
rebuilding. The concrete turbine block is rectangular in shape and is 8m
wide and extends over the southern part of the river for 12m. The southern
part of the turbine block overlies the site of the earlier power house and
the remainder overlies the southern part of the weir. Siting the power
house on the weir meant that the higher water level upstream created a
powerful head of water as it dropped through the turbines. The turbines
were located in chambers set within the body of the turbine block and
water was fed into them through a set of three channels. On the upstream
part of the turbine block the sluice mechanisms which controlled water
flow to the turbine pits still survive. A metal grill across the face of
the sluices to prevent debris entering the turbines also survives.
On the downstream side there are four concrete built arms projecting
outwards to channel the water from the turbine pits. On top of the turbine
block there are the remains of the generator house where electricity was
produced from the power provided by the turbines. This was a rectangular
single storey brick building measuring 12m by 6.5m. The roof no longer
survives although the north wall and gables survive to full height. This
building held the generators as well as providing some space for storage
of tools and maintenance equipment. With the exception of some metal
plates on the generator house floor and a metal cog wheeled mechanism
whose function is unclear all internal fittings and structures such as
turbines, generators, cables and switches have been removed.
Upstream on the west river bank there is a concrete retaining wall 7m long
which controlled the water supply to the inlet sluices. On the downstream
side there is a stone built wall extending from the turbine block to the
river bank which supported the land to the side of the power house. This
downstream wall is the only visible remains of the earlier power house.
It is not known whether any further remains of the earlier power house are
incorporated into or survive below the later structure.
The weir extends right across the river from the edge of the power house.
It measures 40m in length and is approximately 10m wide with a drop of
approximately 2.5m. Close to the northern end there is a metal mechanism
standing proud of the water the purpose of which is currently unclear.
Where the weir meets the east bank of the river there is a stone and
concrete wall supporting the river bank to ensure it is secure from being
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.