London Power Company
The London Power Company was an electricity generating and supply company in London, England. The LPC was formed in 1925 by the merger of 10 smaller electricity companies. In 1948 Britain's electricity supply industry was nationalised under the Electricity Act 1947 and the LPC was absorbed into the British Electricity Authority.
The London Electricity (No.2) Act 1925 empowered companies to amalgamate. The constituent electricity undertakings of the London Power Company were: Brompton and Kensington Electricity Supply Company Limited; Charing Cross Electricity Supply Company Limited; Chelsea Electricity Supply Company Limited; Kensington and Knightsbridge Electric Lighting Company Limited; London Electric Supply Corporation Limited; Metropolitan Electric Supply Company Limited; Notting Hill Electric Lighting Company Limited; St James’ and Pall Mall Electric Light Company Limited; and Westminster Electric Supply Corporation Limited. The Central Electric Supply Company, originally one of this group, was wound up on 25 October 1932.
The LPCs ten predecessor companies had many different power stations generating electricity with different voltages and frequencies. The new company adopted a plan to standardise supply voltage and to concentrate generating capacity at a small number of large new power stations.
Construction of Deptford Power Station for the LPC started in 1925 and was completed in 1929. Construction of Battersea A Power Station was started in 1929 and was completed in 1934. The Second World War delayed the start of construction of Battersea B Power Station until 1945 and it was not completed until the early 1950s, several years after nationalisation.
The LPC had its own fleet of coastal colliers to deliver coal to its power stations. Several were flatiron ships, built with low-profile superstructures and fold-down funnel and masts to pass under bridges upriver from Tower Bridge on the River Thames to reach Battersea. Those ships that were built for the LPC were each named after a person, several of whom were very prominent in the history of electrical engineering.
The company's ships had brown upper works above hull level. The funnel was red emblazoned with the initials "LPC" in white, and had a black top. The house flag was red with the initials "L.P.C." in white capitals.
SS Alexander Kennedy (I) was a 1,315 GRT flatiron launched in June 1932 by the Burntisland Shipbuilding Company of Fife, Scotland. She was named after the electrical engineer Sir Alexander Kennedy (1847–1928), who held a consultancy contract with the LPC. On 22 February 1945 she was in convoy BTC-76 en route from Barry in South Wales to London when the Type VIIC/41 U-boat U-1004 torpedoed and sank her southeast of Falmouth. 1 crew member was killed but 18 survived.
SS Tyndall was a 1,314 GRT flatiron launched in July 1932 by S.P. Austin & Co. of Sunderland. She passed to the British Electricity Authority in 1949, Central Electricity Authority in 1954 and CEGB in 1957. In 1958 she was broken up at Delfzijl in the Netherlands.
SS John Hopkinson was a 1,314 GRT flatiron and Tyndall's sister ship, launched in October 1932 by S.P. Austin & Co. She was named after the physicist and electrical engineer John Hopkinson FRS (1849–98), who invented the three-phase system of distributing electricity.
SS Ferranti was a 1,315 GRT flatiron and Alexander Kennedy's sister ship, launched in October 1932 at Burntisland. She was named after Sebastian de Ferranti (1864–1930), who designed Deptford East Power Station in 1887 for the London Electricity Supply Corporation. On 8 June 1955 she was involved in a collision with the 7,602 GRT Victory Ship SS American Jurist off Greenhithe in the North Sea. She was beached to prevent her sinking, and she was broken up at Grays, Essex in March 1956.
SS Colonel Crompton was a 1,495 GRT collier launched in July 1933 by S.P. Austin & Co. She was named after the electrical engineer R. E. B. Crompton (1845–1940), who was a pioneer of electric lighting.
SS Francis Fladgate was a 2,268 GRT collier launched at Burntisland in September 1933. She was larger than Alexander Kennedy and Ferranti and not a flatiron, so she could not serve Battersea but could carry larger loads to Deptford. In October 1942 Francis Fladgate was a member of an FN-series coastal convoy that had assembled in the North Sea off Southend to sail for Grangemouth. At about 0155 hrs on 8 October, 5.2 miles (8.4 km) off Cromer in the North Sea she struck SS Varøy, a Norwegian coaster in the same convoy. Varøy was holed and sank but her crew of at least 23 men were all rescued. In 1958 Francis Fladgate was sold to new owners in Piraeus, Greece who renamed her Anthippi Michalos. In 1962 she was sold again to owners in Genoa, Italy who renamed her Brick Sesto. In May 1971 she was broken up at Vado Ligure, Italy.
SS Charles Parsons was a 1,569 GRT collier launched by S.P. Austin & Co. in July 1936. She was named after the engineer Sir Charles Parsons (1854–1931), whose invention of the steam turbine and improvement of dynamo design greatly improved electricity generation.
SS George Balfour was a 1,568 GRT collier and Charles Parsons' sister ship, launched by S.P. Austin & Co. in April 1937. She was named after the mechanical and electrical engineer George Balfour (1872–1941), who co-founded Balfour Beatty.
SS Leonard Pearce (I) was a 1,571 GRT collier launched by S.P. Austin & Co. in June 1938. She was named after Sir (Standen) Leonard Pearce (1873–1947), who was engineer-in-chief of the LPC from 1926 and designed both Deptford B and Battersea power stations. On 11 January 1940 in the Bristol Channel she crossed the path of MV Queen Adelaide and failed to give way. Queen Adelaide struck Leonard Pearce and sank her about nine miles off Bull Point.
SS Sir Joseph Swan (I) was a 1,571 GRT collier and Leonard Pearce's sister ship, launched by S.P. Austin & Co. in July 1938. She was named after the physicist Sir Joseph Swan (1828–1914), who invented the incandescent light bulb. On 4 September 1940 the German E-boat attacked and sank her in the North Sea off Hemsby, killing 18 of her crew.
SS New Lambton was a 2,709 GRT collier that the LPC bought in 1940. S.P. Austin & Co had built her in 1924 for W.B. Nisbet and the Tanfield Steamship Company of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, who named her after the village of New Lambton, County Durham. She was a larger coaster, not a flatiron, so she could not reach Battersea but could take larger loads to Deptford. New Lambton was torpedoed and sunk on the same day and in the same part of the North Sea as Sir Joseph Swan (see above).
SS Ambrose Fleming was a 1,222 GRT flatiron launched at Burntisland in February 1941 and completed in April. She was named after the electrical engineer Sir John Ambrose Fleming (1849–1945), who invented the thermionic valve. Ambrose Fleming had a very short life, for on 28 April 1941 a German E-boat torpedoed and sank her off Cromer. 11 crew members were lost and 11 were rescued.
SS Sir Leonard Pearce (II) was a 1,580 GRT flatiron launched at Burntisland in August 1941. She took the name of the previous Leonard Pearce lost in 1940. She was broken up in Sunderland in June 1960.
SS Sir Joseph Swan (II) was a 1,554 GRT flatiron launched at Burntisland in September 1945. She took the name of the earlier Sir Joseph Swan sunk in 1940. She was broken up in May 1961 at Zelzate, Belgium.
SS Oliver Bury was a 2,904 GRT collier launched at Burntisland in November 1945. She was a larger coaster, not a flatiron, so she could not reach Battersea but could take larger loads to Deptford. In 1970 she was sold to new owners in Nicosia, Cyprus who renamed her Alycia. She was broken up in March 1973 in La Spezia, Italy.
SS Sir Alexander Kennedy (II) was a 1,714 GRT collier launched by S.P. Austin & Co. in April 1946. She took the name of the earlier Sir Alexander Kennedy torpedoed in 1945.
- London County Council (1934). London Statistics (Vol.37). London: London County Council. pp. 330–34.
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