Museum of Electricity

Cairns Road Substation

Cairns Road Substation On the 16th November 18 members and friends enjoyed a visit to to the museum of the South Western Electricity Historical Society at Cairns Road substation.

We first spent half an hour or so touring the exhibits in a former substation. There was a display of mains cables and joints of all voltages up to 33 kV that were installed over 90 years or so, and many service cutouts. We also saw examples of new and old wiring installations and a great variety of meters and measuring instruments. All one side of the room was devoted to domestic appliances of all types, the most prominent being a range of cookers dating from the 1920's to the 1950's. The limited space available had been used to display so many examples to good effect.


We then assembled in another of the former substations switch rooms which had been tastefully decorated and most comfortably furnished as a small lecture room.Cairns Road - Museum Exhibits

We were welcomed here by Roger Hughes, the Society's Chairman. He told us a little of the history of Cairns Road Substation from when it was first built in 1934 with four 33/11kV transformers fed by four underground feeders from Portishead.

Peter Lamb, Secretary of the Society and member of our club then treated us to a most interesting illustrated talk. He first described the arc lamps giving the first electric street lighting in Bristol, very much brighter than the previous gas lamps but surprisingly labour-intensive. Most of his talk was on the development over the years of a wide variety of domestic appliances from cookers and fires to hair dryers. Among his illustrations were many examples of contemporary advertisements.

To end our visit we enjoyed tea and biscuits.

Don Vickers

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