Power Station was a coal (and later oil-fired then gas-fired) power station, which supplied electricity to the London Underground system.
A power station at Lots Road
was originally planned by the Brompton and Piccadilly Circus Railway (B&PCR, now part of the Piccadilly line) in 1897. The B&PCR was controlled by the District Railway (DR, now the District line) from 1898, and was sold in 1901 to Charles Yerkes’ Metropolitan District Electric Traction Company, which built the station to provide power to the DR. The station allowed the District line trains to change from steam haulage to electric. At around the same time the Metropolitan Railway built its power station at Neasden.
The station was built end-on to the Thames, on the north bank of the tidal Chelsea Creek. Construction started in 1902 and was completed in December 1904, the station becoming operational in February 1905. The station burned 700 tonnes of coal a day and had a generating capacity of 50,000 kW. At the time it was claimed to be the largest power station ever built, and it eventually powered most of the railways and tramways in the Underground Group.
The station was re-equipped and improved several times. During the early 1920s a sump & hopper system for more efficient fuel handling was installed. A modernisation undertaken in the 1960s converted the station to 50 Hz generation and from coal burning to heavy fuel oil. The number of chimneys was reduced from the original four to two. Between 1974 and 1977, with the discovery of natural gas in the North Sea, the boilers were converted to burn gas, with the option of oil firing if required. The station later worked in conjunction with the ex-London County Council Tramways power station at Greenwich to supply the London Underground network.
The station played a part in the birth of commercial radio in the UK. When the first two radio stations, LBC and Capital Radio, opened in October 1973, the site for their medium wave transmitters was not complete. As a result, a temporary ’Tee’ antenna was strung up between the two chimneys (transmitting LBC on 417 m (719 kHz), and Capital Radio on 539 m (557 kHz)), until the permanent site at Saffron Green was ready in 1975. Some years later the site was used again, on 720 kHz (for a low power MW relay of BBC Radio 4’s LW service) which was in use until 2001 when the radio transmitter was moved to Crystal Palace.
In the 1990s, it was decided not to re-equip Lots Road
again; rather it was to continue to operate only until the machinery’s life was expired.
It was finally shut down on 21 October 2002, and since then all power for the tube system has been supplied from the National Grid.