Electricity And Tramways Committee, 1905 - 1906

Photo reference number: 2092

AR Bear, G Greenland, JH Williams, WA Baker, LS Abrahamson, C. Collier

FP Robjent, W Evans, J Liscombe (mayor), WH Brown (chairman), F Phillips (vice chairman), J Twomey, HC Parfitt, RJ Searles

RH Haynes (borough engineer), Lde R du Verge (deputy borough electrical engineer), HC Bishop (borough electrical engineer), AA Newman (town clerk), JG Ellis (secretary)

Photo from "Municipal Electricity In Newport" published by The Williams Press for The Electricity Committee, County Borough of Newport.

Here is the introductory text from the booklet which reflects the excitement and enthusiasm for the new energy source... ELECTRICITY... at the dawn of a new century and the move from Victorian to Edwardian times:


As the Nineteenth Century was the Age of Steam, so will the Twentieth Century be the Age of Electricity. There is no form of energy so adaptable to man's requirements as the Electric current. It can be transmitted for miles in any quantity; it can be made to yield at will Light, Heat, or Power, and it can be regulated over the widest areas, and with the most minute accuracy; it can drive anything, from an Electric railway train to a dentist's drill; it can run a 250,000 candle-power lighthouse beacon as readily as the tiny lamp in an Electric scarf pin; it can produce a heat gentle enough to keep the feet comfortably warm or fierce enough to melt huge billets of iron and power enough to bore holes in the great blocks of stone for the Newport Transporter Bridge.

Above all it is a clean form of energy. There is neither smoke nor smell where Electricity is used.

In Newport it is so cheap and available everywhere day and night, in any amount large or small and for every purpose, that its universal adoption is simply a matter of time.

The object of this brochure is to bring home to Newport people not only the benefits of the Electric Supply that is at their doors, but also to show that when in the course of time, it is adopted by the Ratepayers generally, it will be found the greatest profit-making undertaking in the possession of the Municipality.


The Electricity Undertaking in Newport as a going concern is exactly ten years old.

The subject of Electric Lighting was first brought before the Corporation in the year 1889, when three Companies gave notice of their intention to apply for Provisional Orders. The Council decided to decline their kind offices, and appointed a special committee consisting of Alderman John Moses, Alderman George Hoskins, and Councillor Charles D. Phillips, who visited various works in order to gain information respecting the Electrical Industry in other parts of the country. The result of their efforts may be gathered from the following recommendation, which was adopted by the Council :

"That the Committee are of opinion that the applications by the various Companies for Provisional Orders should be opposed on the ground that it would be a misfortune if an Electrical Company was established in Newport, and that the Corporation themselves should promote a Provisional Order empowering them to supply Electricity within the whole Borough."

Thus did the pioneers of Electricity in Newport early face the situation with courage and promptitude, and, after successfully overcoming all the difficulties incident to a great commercial enterprise, the Llanarth Street Works were opened with great rejoicings on the 14th October, 1895, by the Mayor, Alderman J. C. Sanders.

From the opening of the works in 1895 the demand for Electricity increased so rapidly that in 1898 considerable extensions took place at the Llanarth Street Works, and these were carried out under the supervision of the Consulting Engineer, Mr. Robert Hammond, M.I.E.E., the Engineer for the original undertaking.

The popularity of the Electric Light as an illuminant became more firmly established, particularly for use in private houses, large numbers being constantly connected to the mains.

The first house connected was the residence of the late Alderman Tom Jones, who, in a speech delivered at the official opening of the Works, said "For the past six months I have had the pleasure of living in a house which is lighted with Electricity, and I can honestly say that I do not want any more Gas."

The Corporation having decided to Electrically equip the Tramways, and also to supply Electric energy for all classes of machinery in the town, a controversy ensued as to the site of the new Power Station which the Council had resolved to construct; the Council's determination also in affect said "Hands off" to another enterprise whose missionaries having explored the land had reported as the spies of old that Newport was a town flowing with possibilities for Plants and Currents Electrical.

As the site question has now long been settled, and is far removed from the realm of resurrection, it will be sufficient to say that it was ultimately decided to erect the Power Station on the Corporation Road site, and amid many signs of popular approval this was opened, together with the Tramway System, on the 9th April, 1903, by the Mayor, Councillor J. H. Dunn.

The constantly increasing demand for power is perhaps the outstanding feature of the developments in the Electrical Undertaking of the town, the facts in connection with which will be fully dealt with and illustrated in a future chapter. It has been necessary to contemplate further and immediate extensions of the plant at the Power Station, and these are now being carried out under the personal supervision of the Borough Electrical and Consulting Engineer, Mr. H. Collings Bishop, M.I.E.E.; these will soon be completed, and ready to cope with the rapidly increasing demand.

With a view of bringing the supply of Electricity in all its forms within the reach of every resident in the Borough the Committee have decided upon a course which will mark a new era in the history of Electrical Undertaking in this town. By reducing and popularising the price of Electricity for Light, Power, and Heat, they hopefully look forward to its adoption generally by the Ratepayers of Newport.

After all, it is the Ratepayers' Light. Its success means the success of all that is bound up with the prosperity of the town, and its continued support will ultimately mean a further reduction in price, and substantial profits for the Municipality, a consummation devoutly to be desired.

How Electricity in its manifold applications has developed in Newport will be dealt with in subsequent chapters.


Of all forms of illumination there can be no doubt that Electricity stands unrivalled. It has such overwhelming advantages for private house lighting that is it no wonder its progress has been so phenomenal.

Electricity is the only illuminant of which it can be said that it is absolutely Safe, Pure, Clean, and Beautiful. It has the advantage of adapting itself to all forms of attractive and artistic decorations, and it can be placed in almost any position. It can be turned on or off in a room as the door is opened or closed. By a judicious arrangement of switches a room can be lit in separate sections which is conducive to economy or brilliantly illuminated at once.

It gives off much less heat than any other artificial light, and consequently does no damage to furniture, books, or pictures.

Photos from the book