Top Power House electric power generation station and associated leat for Greenside lead mine centred 740m NNW of Hole-in-the-Wall


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1021144

Date first listed: 12-Nov-2003


Ordnance survey map of Top Power House electric power generation station and associated leat for Greenside lead mine centred 740m NNW of Hole-in-the-Wall
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Cumbria

District: Eden (District Authority)

Parish: Patterdale

National Park: LAKE DISTRICT

National Grid Reference: NY 35400 16255


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

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 railways. 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.

Despite demolition of the upstanding part of Top Power House electric generating station buried remains of the building survive well. The associated leat survives particularly well throughout its length and displays two phases of construction and numerous in situ components, which together testify to the differing engineering and technological methods utilised here for controlling the movement of water for a power source over long distances across difficult terrain. The monument is an important example of the early use of late 19th/early 20th century hydro-electric power and its subsequent adaption in an industrial context.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes the Top Power House electric generation station and its associated leat, a late-19th century hydro-electric scheme for Greenside lead mine. The power house, also known as No 1 Power Station, is located on the valley floor of Glenridding Beck about 1km upstream from Greenside lead mine. Water was tapped off Glenridding Beck just below Kepple Cove Dam and channelled along the mountainside to an intake tank on the valley side high above the power house. From here it was piped steeply downhill into the power house where a turbine generated approximately 200 horsepower. The power house was built by Captain Borlase in 1890 and was in use from 1891-1940. It provided power for winding, traction, air compressors for drills and lighting at the mine.

The leat commences at NY34771640, just below the outflow from Kepple Cove Tarn Dam. It runs along the northern slope of Catsty Cam as a channel in places flanked by banks on either side with an overall width of up to 12m. Eleswhere it has either a bank on the downslope side only, or no banks at all where it is a rock-cut channel. At a rock outcrop at NY35491627 the water was carried on a timber launder around the north side of the outcrop, the launder has now collapsed and fragments of timber lie on the ground at the foot of the outcrop. Where the leat crossed Red Tarn Beck there are traces of timber supports for a launder to carry water across the beck together with remains of a sluice gate which could have been used either for tapping water from the beck into the leat, or for shutting off the leat and tapping water from it into the beck. At NY35851638 there is another rock outcrop; this one has some in situ remains of the timber launder which carried the water around its northern side. However, this launder must have gone out of use because water was subsequently taken via a rock cut channel through the top of the outcrop. To the east of the outcrop the leat survives as a rock cut channel straddled by numerous in situ timbers which are thought to have supported a covering. At NY36041664 there are the remains of a stone-built intake tank complete with a fragment of the 0.38m diameter metal pipe which took the water steeply down hill to the power house. The course of the pipeline is visible as a shallow trench descending the hill. Lower down the hill the pipe was taken across a hollow on a series of stone piers of which 11 survive. At the foot of the hill, immediately south of the valley track, there are the remains of Top Power House which consists of a platform approximately 16 sq m with an outflow channel running around the south side. There are two L-shaped concrete bases on the platform adjacent to the track.

The surface of a footpath crossing the leat is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath it is included.

MAP EXTRACT 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.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 35017

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Trueman, M, Greenside Lead Mine, Near Patterdale, (1997)
Trueman, M, Greenside Lead Mine, Near Patterdale, (1997)
SMR No. 12781, Cumbria County Council, Top Power House Leat, (1987)
SMR No. 12782, Cumbria County Council, Top Power House Station at Greenside Lead Mine, (1987)

End of official listing