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Cotton Street Electricity Works
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Cotton Street Electricity Works

Historic Documents
David Oswald
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Cotton Street Electricity Works
Historic Documents
Cotton Street Electricity Works
John S. Reid in the third chapter of his excellent book, Mechanical Aberdeen (1990) explains that there were two technological developments during the 1880s that made electricity a far more useful source of power; the evolution of dynamos, key to electricity stations, and the development of the vacuum pump, which made the electric light bulb possible.

Aberdeen Town Council soon realised the potential benefits of electricity as a public utility and 1894 saw the opening of a municipal generating station at Cotton Street. It was built on gasworks ground, cost £21,500 and was primarily the work of Alex Smith, who had served as City Gas Engineer for around 25 years. The electrification of Aberdeen saw admirable and crucial co-operation between gas and electricity departments of the Town Council.

Reid tells us that the opening ceremony for the Cotton Street station saw the activation of Aberdeen's first electric public lighting. On 28 February, 1894, a large crowd gathered in Union Street and Castle Street to watch Lady Provost Stewart throw the switch to light up 10 arc lamps. This was the first stage of a plan that would see lighting extend up the rest of Union Street and branch off down the main streets. The venture made Aberdeen only the second corporation in Scotland to introduce electric street lamps (after Glasgow) and the first to construct their own generating station. The initial capacity of Cotton Street was 300 kilowatts.
Aberdeen Local Studies
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