Record Details

NHER Number:55409
Type of record:Building
Name:Duke's Palace Ironworks and Norwich Electric Lighting Company


19th century ironworks and 20th century steam powered generating station.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TG 2290 0881
Map Sheet:TG20NW

Full description

October 2007. Historic building recording.
The plant and works associated with the Electric Light Company Offices, formerly the Norwich Electricity Works, were designed by Boardman architects. The firm built factories to accommodate the industrialisation of Norwich and changing urban needs and also designed and built various residential schemes, churches, Norwich Castle and the Royal Hotel.
See (S1) for further details.
S. Howard (NLA), 15 December 2009.

NIAS records:
In 1892 the Norwich Electric Light Company purchased the site of Duke's Palace Ironworks for conversion into an electricity generating station. Initially they only used a third of the space so Riches and Watt were leased the remaining space to continue ironworking. The station commenced supply on 3rd August 1893.
The station was powered by three 100hp steam engines generating 180kW of direct current. As demand increased more, larger engines were added. By 1903 there were 13, ranging from 100hp to 700hp. The engines were fuelled by Babcock and Wilcox coal fired boilers, later adapted to burn oil too.
The power was distributed via bare copper wires underground insulated by standard sealed porcelain sanitary drain pipes. By 1896 there were 7 miles of conduits around the city.
About a mile from the station, sub-stations with batteries enabled heavy flow at long distance and reduced strain on the central plant. The system distributed 220V D/C to industry and 110V A/C to residential.
In 1904 the steam engines were replaced with steam turbines capable of producing 1000+hp each and driving multiple 500kW dynamos. In 1912 the stoking and coal feeding of the boilers was mechanised, improving plant efficiency. During winters around this period the plant burnt through 50 tons of coal a day. In 1910 the Town Council approached the Company with a scheme of public lighting. By 1913, most of the city was lit by electric street lamps counting over 1750 in use. Around this time the station started supplying more and more motive power to industry, eventually outstripping lighting in power units sold. By 1922 the station was loaded to capacity with no more room to expand. The new power station at Thorpe was built and the Duke Street site converted to offices. The boiler house became derelict, was converted to a car park shed and eventually demolished in the late 1970s for the entire site to come a car park until 1999-2000 when it was demolished for the construction of new apartments.
See (S2).
W. Arnold (HES), 04 May 2011.

One of the buildings that remains today is the Norwich Corporation Electricity Department showrooms. See (S3) for an architecturial illustration by J. Fletcher-Watson, commissioned by A.F. Scott and Sons Architects.
Information from (S4).
H. Hamilton (HES), 08 April 2015.

Monument Types

  • IRON FOUNDRY (18th Century to 19th Century - 1800 AD? to 1892 AD)
  • COAL FIRED POWER STATION (19th Century to Early 20th Century - 1892 AD to 1904 AD)
  • STEAM TURBINE POWER STATION (Early 20th Century - 1904 AD to 1922 AD)

Associated Finds - none

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

---Correspondence: Cross, J. 2015. E-mail from James Cross to the Historic Environment Service. 02 April 2015.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2015. Dig could reveal secrets of 16th-century palace. 1 April.
<S1>Unpublished Contractor Report: Donald Insall Associates. 2007. Duke's Wharf Site, Duke Street, Norwich. Historical recording of the Electric Light Company Offices by Edward and ET Boardman. Donald Insall Associates.
<S2>Archive: NIAS. Norfolk Industrial Archaeology Society Records.
<S3>Illustration: Fletcher-Watson, J. 1938. Architectural Illustration of the Norwich Corporation Electricity Department showrooms, Duke Street, Norwich. Digital (jpeg).

Related records - none

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