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Anecdotal History

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Expansion of Electricity Services in Annandale (1916...)

Annandale's Great War: A Short Walk | Douglas Grant | The Fitzpatrick Brothers | 36th Battalion | Wireless Miller Brothers | End of the Great War | Trains, Sound, Film and Industry | Beale Pianos | Electricity | 1920s Annandale: A Short Walk

Annandale's Electricity Pioneers | Electricty comes to Annandale | Expansion of Electricity Services in Annandale (1916...) | World First in Solar Energy (1994)

Drawings of Substation S122, 12 Collins Street Annandale

drawing-plan drawing-plan drawingdrawing

Plans of Modifications to Substation S122 (1920, 1965, 1981) provided by AUSGRID in December 2011. They also advised Metropolitan Vickers/Ferguson Pailin/Standard Waygood standard SMC type which were installed sometime between 1921 - 1929 - have been retained on the S122 site. Heritage listing of S122 at

Small building with roof vents, initials in logo on fron are SMC and building identified as No 122 The city electrical engineer urged tho electricity supply committee of the City Council at a meeting yesterday to order at once the additional plant, which should be working in 1922. ...
Sir Allen Taylor said the balance available from the London loan would not meet that expenditure... He did not think the Commonwealth Bank would again allow an overdraft of £850,000...
The city electrical engineer recommended the acceptance of an offer made by Messrs. Beale and Co. to erect an electricity sub-station at Annandale, as the City Council had no facilities to do the work with sufficient rapidity...
This was opposed by the Labour aldermen, who carried a motion that the work be done by the council by direct labour. - 1921 'ELECTRICITY.', The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), 9 June, p. 10, viewed 23 November, 2011,

The Beale Piano Factory had its own electricity plant, when it opened in 1902.

Municipal Council of Sydney, Electricity Supply Department : Report by F.J. Smith & Johnson.(1922)

large blue bound book with gold embossed writingThe report made 32 recommendations, only one to transfer the customer accounts for the City Treasury to the Electricity Department was not adopted. The Town (Bib ID: 0000035494 City of Sydney Reference Library)

Included in the report, is a response which quotes the 1908 investigation into the electricity department by GA Julius, in which the department is condemned for not scheduling regular maintenance, apparently because the chief engineer did not want to expend money on overtime. This report lead to the resignation of the Electrical Engineer at the time.

"Mr Julius's report was largely the casue of Mr Rooke's (then City Electrical Engineer) resigning his position. I have not been told so, but I have no doubt that Mr Rooke did not work overtime on the plant durin week-ends etc. because he did not care to face the heavy expense. The position of the man in charge of the Council's Electricity Department is, indeed unfortunate. If, from cases byond his control, his Power House is overloaded, he must not overhaus his plant during week-ends for fear an investigating accountant finds him "glaringly inefficient" and "lacking in any sense of responsibility to the citizens" On the other hand, if, an investigating engineer may drop in and condemn him (the man in charge) for not "systematically working overtime during periods of light load." Overtime is bad - bad for the undertaing, bad for the men, bad for te plant. It should neer be worked if it can be avoided. This is fully realised in the Electricity Department, and overtime is watched most jealously. In my opinion, if I may say so without disrespect, one of the most unfortunate decisions ever arrived at by the Council was to pay extra for time worked outside ordinary hours to all grades in the service, including Heads of Departments. No man should be paid overtime who is in such a position that he himself decides when overtime shall be worked." - (page 100)

City Council Electricity Plant.
The second Bellos and Morcom set being supplied by Messrs Siemens Brothers for the, City Council- electricity plant, will arrive from thc United Kingdom by the Woodarra today. - 1924 'City Council Electricity Plant.', Cairns Post (Qld. : 1909 - 1954), 31 October, p. 4, viewed 25 January, 2012,

S260 Annandale Street (between Reserve St and Albion St)

COUNCIL 22 May 1929 C/N 1681. Annandale Street, Annandale Substation Resumption Claim by Mrs CM Wynn In connection with the resumption of a site in Annandale street, Annandale, for a substation, Mrs Caroline Maud Wyn submitted a claim for £ 590. Council's notice of valuation was £474. The Claimant's Solicitor has intimated her acceptance of the amount of the Council's valuation, and it is recommended that authority be given to settle. The authority be given to settle by the payment of the sum of £474; that the City Treasurer note as to provision of funds, and that the papers be then forwarded to the City Solicitor. Municipal Council of Sydney CN 1681 Annandale Street, Annandale Resumption Claim of Wynn Caroline Maud Sydney City Archives (CN 1681, Title: 	Annandale St, Annandale resumption. Claim of Caroline Maud Wynn. Vacant land Annandale St.  16 Oct 1928-03 Jul 1929) Photographed by Marghanita da Cruz November 2011

In 1929, the Sydney City Council expanded the Electricity network, including the acquisition of vacant land for £474 to build a Substation. - Sydney City Archives CN 1681

In 1929, land in Annandale Street was resumed, from Mrs Caroline Maud Wynn for £474, for a substation.- City of Sydney Archives(CN 1681)

streetview showing electricity substation, terrace house, footpath and trees1930 Photograph of S260 and Photographs of Switches and Circuit Breakers inside Substation. Photographs provided by AUSGRID February 2012 black cabinets pipes and cylinders side view of switches on board green equipment cabinet in room Gate in Roller door with man coming through marble panel with switches ceiling and window of room Roller door brick substation with fencing large switchs connected to cabinets

facade of building on construction site

The facade of the substation, in Annandale Street, remains, after redevelopment of the site in 2009.

Transfer of Electricty Department from the Sydney City Council to the Sydney County Council

In 1922 the City Council decided to give increased powers to the general manager ol the department, so that it could be managed on a commercial basis.
Aldermen pointed out thal it, would be unsatisfactory for the council if Mr. Mackay (general manager of the department) acted in the dual capacity of thc officer who valued the assets transferred to the County Council, and who, at the same time, assessed the loss io thc City Council by such transfer. As Mr. Mackay was to be thc manager of thc County Council electricity scheme, it was essential that the powers of the Town Clerk should be increased so that he would be able to protect the interests of the city ratepayers... - 1935 'CITY COUNCIL.', The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), 11 April, p. 7, viewed 25 January, 2012,

1920s Vehicles

From Display at AUSGRID Training Centre Silverwater, Courtesy of Peter Marosz, May 2012

car with truck in foyer of building with glass Replica of Ladder Truck built by Carriage builders Duncan & Fraser Ltd. As well as building car bodies for Ford, Duncan and Fraser built horse buggies, trams and trains.

car with wooden seats

man standing on ladder on a car

Man and Car with ladder on it

man on ladder on back of truck changint lights on grid of wires

50 Years of Electricity Supply (1955)

Fifty years of electricity supply : the story of Sydney's electricity undertaking / by Gordon F. Anderson. Published: Sydney : Sydney County Council, 1955. Bib ID: 0000006128

"A few gas and oil lamps made darkness visible" - CH Bertie

The government introduced Oil Lamps in 1832. By 1841, the AGL was providing gas lighting. In an endeavour to show that the gas lighting was too expensive, H Hollinshed gave a public demonstration at the Sydney School of arts. He lit a lamp, fuelled by 4 foot of gas and an oil lamp. He then trimmed them both to the same illumination and let them burn. When the gas ran out, he extinguished the oil lamp. Measuring the remaining oil he showed that the oil consumed was approximately one-tenth of the cost of the gas consumed. In 1846, the Gas company made a considerable reduction in their charges and won the contract and lit the streets of Sydney, unchallenged until the 1890s. The Electric Lighting bill was introduced in 1896 and electric lighting was turned on in 1904. Allen Taylor is recorded as one of the members of the 1904 Electricity Committee.

Front cover of hardcover book - 50 Years of Electricity Supply The story of Sydney's Electricity UndertakingThis was not the first electric lighting in Sydney. In 1878, electric generators and arc-lights were used to enable round the clock construction of the Garden Palace. In 1882, after being impressed by the New York electrical lighting, Mr Kingsbury, brought with him several 16 candle power electrical plants back with him. Overcoming some faults with the engines, the 80 plants were sold to private individuals and government departments. The GPO, Wharves at Circular Quay and South Head lighthouse were soon lit by electric light.

"Although the suburban concils were very anxious for electricity for private and public user they would not entertain the idea of having overhead mains in their municipalities. despite the cost in both time and money, made the laying of underground mains an unsound commercial proposition. The principal objections were aesthetic and uninsultated mains except for the porcelain supports." To overcome these objections, the Council proposed ornate steel light poles - there was the threat of competition from other providers such as the Balmain Electric Company, who by 1954, were providing electric light to Ashfield, Petersham, Leichhardt and Balmain.

50 Years of Electricity Supply the Sydney County Council backcover of book with two circular logosIn 1910, agreements were entered into with Annandale, Mascot, Randwick and Wollahra. Undertaking the supply to the surburban areas required a doubling of voltage to 10,000volts. Transformers were installed at the Pearl Street substation and commissioned in 1911 to increase the voltage.

(page 46) In 1910, the Annandale Substation [Johnston Street], the first substation to supply electricity for street lighting in a surburban municipality was constructed.

Electric lighting was to be provided by arc-lamps, at not more than 150yard intervals, in all streets of one chain or more and narrow streets would be lit by incandescent lamps. Where it was practicable the mains would be overhead on steel poles. This did not happen until 1913.

In 1912, the AGL chairman reassured shareholders at the half yearly general meeting: "It is only a question of time, I think, when these Councils will find out their mistake in having effected the change"

The Trading with the enemy proclamation of 1915, required special licenses to procure equipment from German companies, notably AEG and Siemans.

By 1925, despite a reduction in rates in 1923, the general manager stated that if the Council did not reduce the charges the profit would be £200,000 and progressively increase. However, despite this profit - some customers were subsidising others and proposed the introduction of 4 classes of customers. Commercial (shops, offices, warehouses, theatres, hospitals, libraries, clubs, schools etc.), residential, church (flat rate) and factory (unchanged).

Residential customers were charged on the basis of primary units determined on an area basis, then a secondary (lower) rate. Existing customers were given the option of staying on the old system. Commercial was charged on maximum demand. Churches (places of worship) a flat rate and the factory rate was unaltered. Discounts were available for high voltage supply and for improving the power factor. A special rate for water heating.

Switchboard from Colannade Building on display at Benton's Real Estate, Goodman's Buildings

Ring B0259 The Sydey County Council for electricity serviceRing BO259 (1952)

"Ring B0259 The Sydey County Council for electricity service" is a 15page, 14cm user guide distributed by the Sydney County Council. The guide was annotated 1952. The foreward features a line drawing of the power station and offers of Cookery Demonstrations, at their offices in the QVB and sydney regions. It also offers a Home Service, Lighting specialists and Power engineers to provide advice on cooking with electricity and fitting out your premises. Other sections explain how to read the dial electricity meters and what A Kilowatt Hour means. The back page text is: Sydney County Council, Electricity Undertaking Queen Victoria Building, George Street, Sydney.

Annandale's Local Electrical Hero

Walter recalled, being at the Theatre in Johnston Street, when the movie was stopped and he was requested to report to work, as there had been an electricity failure. So he hopped on a Tram into the city - ANZAC Day 2009


In 2011, Energy Australia/AUSGRID undertook Major Work was undertaken on the Electricity Distribution Network, including the Kiosk Substations in Annandale in 2011.

In the course of the works, AUSGRID provided historical drawings of S122 and S15

This page last update 30 Decembr 2020.