blank.gifUnion Jack Flagblank.gifSt. George Cross flag blank.gifThe emblem for the county of Essex History Forum | Site Map   
Basildon History Online Share/Bookmark
    You are here: Pitsea

Pitsea Broadway: The power house

Pitsea's own electric power house


Jack Fisher

The power house was situated between the Broadway Cinema and the Tudor Chambers. It generated electricity for all the Tudor style Howard properties. In 1956 when I first worked at the cinema, it was still partly powered from the generators in the power house. It was the projectionist responsability to make sure they were running.

There were three generators. A cross beam Crosley. A Ruston and a smaller one that was said to be a tractor engine but that one was never used. The Crosley and the Ruston were the main generators. Both had to be started on compressed air and all were diesel powered. There was a mechanic that came in once a week to check them over. His name was George Haley. He in the past had been a projectionist and his father had been the manager of the cinema and lived in the flat over the foyer.

To get both engines started they had to be primed and started with compressed air. The Crosley was a low engine with only one large piston. To start it you had to get the piston at the top of its stroke. To do this you turned the very large fly wheel that stood taller than me. On firing up the first time there was a loud thump. If you were outside and looking at the exhaust stack you would see a large smoke ring going up.

The Ruston was completely different. This was a 6 piston engine and stood very tall. To start you primed each piston with fuel. When it started the building used to vibrate.

On one side of the house was a large distribution board with rows of fuses and isolating switches all labelled to indicate where the electricity was supplied to. Most of the fuses were missing and a lot of the switches had been broken but most of the name plates were still there. The cables leading into the board was very thick.

The name tags were marked:


Tudor Mansions and Shops.

Anne Boleyn Chambers and Shops.

War Memorial and canopy lighting.

Street Lights.


Tavern and Ball room.


And a few others that had lost their name tags. Tudor Chambers was not there as it had not been built 'till 1956.

The voltage from the generators were 110v D.C. The power on the National Grid is 240v A C. so the power from the generators were obsolete. The cinema was using it for their emergency lighting and the power for the ark lights on the projectors. No generators no pictures!

When I came out of the forces and started back at the cinema the generators had been obsolete and mercury rectifiers had been installed to power the arc lights and a battery system for the emergency lighting had been instaled.

This all came from what I can remember from 65 years ago so some of it might not be accurate.

The power house still stands. Its exhaust stack and fuel tanks are missing but the main body of the building is still there.

It can be seen on Google Earth.

Title: Pitsea's Power House

Author: Charles Jack Fisher

Copyright: © Charles Jack Fisher, June 2020.

Page added: 26/06/2020
Other points of interest:

1) The war memorial previously stood in Station Lane at its junction with High Road. It was resited in 1969 to Howard Park, where it remains today.
Contact: E-Mail
Back a Page Pitsea Top of Page Homepage Next Page
© Basildon History Online Website - WWW.BASILDON.COM