British Electricity History


Public electricity supplies began in Britain during the 1880s. By 1900 most urban places with over 50,000 population had some form of service, at least in the town centre. Gradually the isolated points on the national map began to coalesce especially when the national grid helped local organizations to connect small towns, villages and eventually farms.

In the process of electrification, hundreds of municipal and company organizations developed local and sometimes regional systems. Before nationalization in 1948, however, there was little consolidation of areas.

The study of British electricity systems is a remarkably daunting task. While there is a rich legacy of detailed annual surveys, these publications have to be tracked down. The user is then faced with immense alphabetical listings of all sorts of enterprise, often in places which no longer have much meaning except to local residents. Since there are few contemporary maps, listing and grouping the electricity organizations geographically is difficult and often time-consuming.

These notes are offered as an outline guide to the pre-1948 local authorities and companies which developed electricity supplies in South Eastern England.

Pdf copies of chapters

  1. South Eastern Electricity Board
  2. South Wales Electricity Board
  3. South Western Electricity Board
  4. Southern Electricity Board
  5. Merseyside and North Wales Electricity Board
  6. North Western Electricity Board
  7. South West Scotland Electricity Board Area
  8. North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board Area
  9. South East Scotland Electricity Board Area
  10. North Eastern Electricity Board Area
  11. Yorkshire Electricity Board Area
  12. East Midlands Electricity Board Area


Dr. Gerald Bloomfield
Professor Emeritus
Dept. of Geography, Environment and Geomatics