Click here to see the booklet produced
for the opening of the power station in 1921.
Built on the outskirts of Rishton on the Blackburn
boundary, the Blackburn East Generating Station was commissioned in 1919.
The land was first acquired in 1914, a total of 64
acres with railway and canal facilities, but no further action was taken at the time
due to the outbreak of the 1st World War.
In the meantime the Electricity Commission was formed
by the Government in an Act of Parliament to deal with the whole of the electricity
supply throughout the country, and it was to this body that permission was sought in
1919 to build the power station.
As shown here the site was officially opened on 21st
October 1921 by lord Derby, when half the station was working.
The station was built with a capacity of 25,000
kilowatts, and the foundation stone was laid by Alderman William Thompson on the
13th May 1920.
This was the first large power station in Great
Britain to be started under the Electricity Commissioners as part of their scheme
for the interconnection of electricity undertakings. During the mid Thirties the
power station became part of the national grid.
The station was equipped with seven Babcock cross type
marine boilers, each one of 5,000 lbs capacity per hour, on balanced draught
principle, complete with their own economisers, soot blowing apparatus etc., the
coal handling and measuring plant being a special feature. There were two 12,500
kilowatt generating sets made by English Electric Company Limited installed in the
engine room, and the current was supplied at 6,600 volts through trunk mains to
Jubilee Street, Blackburn, which was converted into a main sub and distributing
The Blackburn Electricity (Extension) Special Orders,
1922-23, was granted by the Electricity Commissioners authorising a supply to urban
districts of Great Harwood and Rishton, as well as the parishes of Blackburn. A bulk
supply was given to Darwen.
East Lancs. railway supplied the power station with coal, along with the road
the canal, which was also used for cooling. The water was returned to the canal
when it reached 75 degrees or pumped round again. Originally the water was stored in
wooden towers but between 1942 and 54 four concrete towers were built.
In 1922 Blackburn Council applied for the power
station to be transferred to their ownership, Rishton petitioned against this and
the bill was finally quashed in the House of Commons.
application was received from the Blackburn Corporation Electricity Undertaking, on
the 8th August 1940, by Rishton Urban District Council, for sanction to proceed with
extensive additions to the generating station at Whitebirk, including a new Turbine
House, Boiler House, Chimney, and Cooling Towers. The plans were duly passed under
the Town & Country Planning Act 1932.
A plan was submitted for the proposed new stables at Whitebirk
Generating Station on the 21st May 1936, for the Blackburn Corporation Electricity
Undertaking, which was approved by the Council.
The Blackburn Corporation Electricity Undertaking applied for a
water supply to the new extension for the generating station on the 10th October
1940. The request was passed to the water engineer for negotiation. The Council
Clerk was to take up the matter of the water supply with the County Council and
arrange an interview with a view to obtaining advice in the matter on the 28th
January 1943. A deputation of two interview the Surveyor regarding delays in
attending to matters in connection with the water supply to the Electricity Works.
The deputation was to consist of Councillors Kenyon and Smith. On the 8th April
1943, The Council Clerk reported upon further negotiations with the County
Authorities concerning the application for a grant under Section 307 of the Public
Health Act, 1936, in connection with the water main laid to the Blackburn
Electricity Generating Station. Resolved, provided that the County Council will
contribute towards the cost of the six-inch main in the name proportion as the
County Rate bears to the General District Rate, that the sum of £924 0s. 1d. be paid
to Blackburn Corporation. Councillor Kenyon voted against this resolution.
The clerk for Rishton Urban District Council reported on
correspondence from the Central Electricity Board to the Council Committee on the
10th October 1940, concerning the new overhead transmission line to pass through the
The Council Clerk reported upon a reply to correspondence
addressed to the Town Clerk of Blackburn on the 21st January 1943, concerning
drainage and cesspool at the Whitebirk Electricity Works. A plan was submitted by
the Electricity Undertakings. The Council resolved that the plan be disapproved and
that a deputation consisting of Councillors Booth, Kenyon, Leeming and Worsley,
together with the Clerk and the Sanitary Inspector, visit the works as soon as
arrangements can be made. A revised plan was placed before the Council on the 28th
January 1943, in connection with the drainage of the cesspool system at the
Electricity Works. The plan has been amended in accordance with the requirements of
this Authority's Sanitary Inspector and a letter was read giving an undertaking to
accept liability for the scheme. Resolved that the scheme be approved.
The proposal served on Blackburn Corporation concerning the
amendment of the Valuation List from £8,500 to £12,500 in respect of the Whitebirk
Electricity Generating Station was approved and confirmed by Rishton Council on the
5th April 1943.
The Council Clerk reported upon the question of the Water Supply
to Whitebirk Electricity Generating Station on the 15th April 1943. Resolved that
the account for £924 0s. 1d. be paid when the grant under Section 307 of the Public
Health Act 1936, is confirmed. It was further resolved that negotiations be
conducted with Blackburn Corporation for the remission of the portion of the account
for £200 2s. 4d.
Attention was drawn to the considerable volume of Sulphur fumes being emitted from the Generating
Station on the 8th October 1953, and it was RESOLVED—That the Sanitary
Inspector take up the matter with the British Electricity
Smoke Pollution—Whitebirk Power Station: The
Inspector reported that he had met a delegation representing
the British Electricity Authority regarding his
complaint about sulphur fumes and grit emanating from
the Power Station on the 12th November 1953. A chart was submitted by the
deputation from which it appeared
that the extent of the
not severe. In view of the matters involved
Resolved—That no action be taken at
but that the
matter was to be kept under review.
Electricity ceased to be produced at Rishton in 1972,
and in May 1983 the concrete towers were demolished.
shopping centre now
stands on the site with the usual Comet, M. F. I., etc superstores.
The road layout has been altered several times around
this area to accommodate this, but
the canal still runs in its original location.
Blackburn Road near the new Whitebirk
motorway junction, it is easy to see where the power station once stood.
All that now remains of the power station can be seen
along the edge of the canal. The tow path was covered with coal, and the far banking
has the stone work still visible.
Industrial Rishton - Kathleen Broderick
Barrett's Directory, Blackburn and District,