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HER Number:MDV117473
Name:Princetown pocket power station, Station Road

Summary

This important historical structure was commissioned on 11 December 1959. The output was 3.0 megawatts. It was the site of the world's first unmanned power station. Was still occassionally used up to 2011. The Princetown engine is now installed in the Internal Fire Museum of Power near Cardigan Bay in Wales. Considered for listing in 2017 but rejected at initial assessment stage.

Location

Grid Reference:SX 588 734
Map Sheet:SX57SE
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishDartmoor Forest
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishLYDFORD

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses: none recorded

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • POWER STATION (Constructed, XX - 1959 AD to 1959 AD (Between))

Full description

Ordnance Survey, 2016, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV359352.

Building is depicted on the modern mapping.


Greeves, E., 2016, Pocket Power Station (next to Princetown Smithy), Station Cottages Road, Princetown (Worksheet). SDV359892.

The 1959 first-ever built Power Pocket Station. This important historical structure – the Princetown Pocket Power Station - was commissioned on 11 December 1959. The output was 3.0 megawatts. It was the site of the world's first unmanned power station.


British Pathé, 2017, British Pathé, Accessed 13/01/2017 (Website). SDV359986.

1959 film of the Proteus 3 Megawatt Turbo Generator at Princetown; the world's first unmanned power station. This miniature station was remotely operated from Bristol and utilised a jet engine to provide enough power for a town of 10,000 people, supplementing the main power supply at peak times as well as providing a standby in case of emergencies. This reduced the demand on the national grid, as well as reducing the need for excessive overhead cabling. Also called 'Robot Power Stations'.


South Western Electricity Historical Society, 2017, South Western Electricity Historical Society, http://emep.worldonline.co.uk/SWEHS/docs/news21su.html (Website). SDV360015.

History of Princetown's Electricty supply compiled from archive of the Duchy of Cornwall.
The South West Electricty Board (SWEB) Chairman (1956-1973) conceived the idea of using an aero engine to drive a generator in a small station in a remote area. The first installation was at Princetown to give security of supply and to overcome the problems of voltage drop due to the distance from Mary Tavy. The power plant consists of a 4,250 SHP Proteus engine coupled to a 1,000 RPM, 3.2 MVA, 3 phase, 50 Hz, 11,000 volt Electric Construction Co alternator and exciter. This together with its switchgear and controls is housed in a small building on light foundations, and is remotely controlled over the public telephone system. There is no cooling water requirement or need for manning of the plant. The station was commissioned on 11 December 1959. The output was 3.0 MW. It is claimed to be the world's first unmanned power station, and is still in occasional use. It would have also enabled mains supplies to be connected to surrounding villages in the early 1960's. These details have been taken from a paper "SWEB's Pocket Power Stations" by John Gale (Histelec News December 1999: http://www.swehs.co.uk/archives/news13su.html).
The Princetown engine is now installed in the Internal Fire Museum of Power near Cardigan Bay in Wales.


Historic England, 2017, The Pressed Men Building, Princetown, Dartmoor Reject at Initial Assessment Report, 03/02/2017 (Correspondence). SDV360109.

This building was put forward for consideration for listing to Historic England but has been rejected at initial assessment.
In accordance with the Principles of Selection for Listing Buildings (DCMS, 2010) for buildings dating after 1840 progressively greater selection is necessary. As stated in Historic England's Selection Guide for Utilities and Communications Structures (2011), only the most important power stations are listable and this may include earliest survivors or key examples of a major development. However, important
considerations are architectural elaboration of the exterior, quality of the interior, and the survival of any machinery and / or switch gear.
Judged against the criteria, and the considerations in our supplementary guidance, the former electricity generating station of 1924 and adjacent Pocket Power Station of 1959, do not merit listing for the following principal reasons:
* Level of intactness: the buildings, having undergone significant alteration, do not survive sufficiently
intact to merit listing;
* Architectural interest: although the 1924 station displays some architectural embellishment, in a
national context it is not of sufficient quality to merit listing. As expected of a building of this type, the 1959 station is of a plain, functional design created specifically to house the Proteus engine. The latter's
removal, together with the loss of its oil tank and chimney, has significantly diminished its overall integrity and interest;
* Historic interest: although the buildings are of interest in their contribution to our understanding of key developments within the history of electric power generation, in particular the automated Pocket Power Station, this interest on its own is not sufficient to outweigh the overall lack of intactness and architectural interest.
CONCLUSION
Although possessing some claims to interest, and as poignant reminders of key developments in the
history of electric power generation, the Pressed Men building (the former electric power generating
station of 1924), and the adjacent Pocket Power Station of 1959 in Princetown, Dartmoor, lack the level of architectural interest and intactness needed to recommend listing.


Wapshott, E. + Boyd, N., 2018, Pressed Men Princetown Dartmoor Devon, 14-15 (Report - Survey). SDV361149.

This building was the first one of its kind in the world and was constructed in 1959. It used a Bristol Siddeley Proteus engine and was remotely controlled. Rejected for listing in 2017, it has been considerably altered and does not contain any important machinery. Although not important enough for listing, this is a locally important building.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV359352Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2016. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital. [Mapped feature: #76781 ]
SDV359892Worksheet: Greeves, E.. 2016. Pocket Power Station (next to Princetown Smithy), Station Cottages Road, Princetown. Worksheet. Digital.
SDV359986Website: British Pathé. 2017. British Pathé. http://www.britishpathe.com. Website. Accessed 13/01/2017.
SDV360015Website: South Western Electricity Historical Society. 2017. South Western Electricity Historical Society. http://www.swehs.co.uk/. Website. http://emep.worldonline.co.uk/SWEHS/docs/news21su.html.
SDV360109Correspondence: Historic England. 2017. The Pressed Men Building, Princetown, Dartmoor Reject at Initial Assessment Report. Reject at Initial Assessment Report. Digital. 03/02/2017.
SDV361149Report - Survey: Wapshott, E. + Boyd, N.. 2018. Pressed Men Princetown Dartmoor Devon. Southwest Archaeology. 180305. A4 Comb Bound + Digital. 14-15.

Associated Monuments

MDV117463Related to: Electricity Generating Station, Station Cottages Road, Princetown (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV7537 - Building recording at the former 'Pressed Men' and Dartmoor Garden Machinery site, Princtown

Date Last Edited:Apr 27 2018 11:51AM