Call us now on: 01444 812 171

The Amazing History of Electricity in the UK

History of electricity | Lightbulb with filaments lit up

Share this post

The history of electricity in the UK stretches back many years to the discovery of electricity itself. 


Most people credit Benjamin Franklin with the discovery of electricity in 1752 after realising that the sparks created by lightning could produce power.

History of electricity | Illustration of Benjamin Franklin conducting lightning experiments with a kite.

The first public electricity generator in the UK was installed in Godalming in 1881, and the following year the Electric Light Act came into being, which was the first public act dealing with electricity supply for the nation. 

In the late 19th century, the “War of the Currents” was waged, wherein several engineers fought over which distribution system would work best – DC (Direct Current) or AC (Alternating Current). 

Thomas Edison is credited with creating Direct Current. The current flows in one direction continuously, like a battery or fuel cell. It was initially the standard in power transmission. 

However, direct current cannot be easily converted to a higher or lower voltage.

History of electricity | Nikola Tesla conducting tesla coil experiments.

Nikola Tesla, on the other hand, was an advocate for Alternating Current, and he played a big part in the history of electricity too.

Over the years, Tesla and Edison battled it out with various contracts being awarded back and forth for large projects. Tesla’s AC was eventually used as the current of choice for the Niagara Falls power station, demonstrating its reliability and establishing AC as the main current of choice. 

Ultimately, AC won out over DC thanks to its ability to be stepped up or down by transformers depending on the user’s needs, but DC is still used in various applications like computers and electric vehicles, so the war continues in the background!

After the standard current was established, next came along localised power stations for councils around the country. The smaller power stations were connected together in order to ensure supply robustness, and eventually, demand grew to the point where several smaller power stations could be replaced by one larger one.

The Electricity Supply Act passed in 1926, introduced the first national coordination, and the National Grid was mostly complete by 1935. 

Over the years, improvements have been made to the electrical systems across the country, providing high-voltage electric power nationwide. Nowadays, there’s more of a focus on dropping fossil fuels like the traditional coal-fired power stations of old, and the country is year-on-year generating electricity using more renewable energy generation sources like solar and wind.

History of electricity | Modern office space with desks, computers and chairs.

History of Electricity – Electricity in the Office

Thanks to the advancements in electric power over the years, office electrical equipment, has also improved. 

In 1897 the first major law that aimed to ensure the safety of workers using electrical appliances was passed. A few years later, Scott Ram’s “Memorandum” was released, one of the first examples of a regulatory code for electrical safety in the workplace.

In 1952 Charles Dalziel invented the ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI), which aimed to prevent ground faults in commercial and domestic settings. It’s still used today in kitchens, bathrooms and laundry rooms!
In 1989 the Electricity At Work Regulations (EAWR) came into place, laying the foundations for the PAT testing (Portable Appliance Testing) that we carry out today.

History of electricity | Vintage computer and keyboard on a wooden table with a lamp.

History of Electricity – Sussex Facilities Management

Here at Sussex Facilities Management, we’re dedicated to creating a safe and enjoyable workplace for all of our lovely customers. Our PAT tests examine electrical office equipment to ensure it’s safe to use at work. We can also provide an Electric Installation Condition Report (EICR). 

We’re able to work in residential and commercial buildings alike, and we’ll handle any job, big or small!

As well as PAT and EICR tests, we also cover any and all electrical work in commercial buildings, so you’re in safe hands with our expert team. 

Our tests of office electrical installations and equipment include a visual inspection and in-depth testing using calibrated PAT testing machines for the most accurate readings before providing a pass or fail certificate. We will also examine and provide a solution for any damaged cables or plugs, so you can rest easy knowing that your team and office are in good hands!
Get in touch today on 01444 812 171 to book your PAT test with us, or have a read of another one of our electricity-focused blogs to learn even more about the importance of electrical safety at work.

Related Posts

General
We hope you have had a great 2018, we have and we wish you all a great Christmas and fantastic 2019. Just remember if […]