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19 November 1901 Electric Power


19 November 1901      Electric Power

Electric power came to Adelaide, officially, when the Grenfell Street Power Station was opened by the Lady Mayoress on 19 November 1901, with some 800 of Adelaide’s leading citizens and their wives gathered to see the lights go on. The Electric Lighting and Traction Company (later to become Adelaide Electric Supply Company) had supplied some electricity to Port Adelaide and to a few business houses in the city from temporary power stations, but the opening of the Grenfell Street power house saw the beginnings of the supply to the city and later the suburbs, and eventually in 1909 the electrification of the tramway system. As nearly always with a new innovation there were the opponents and critics. Some parliamentarians argued against its introduction on the grounds that the formation of a company could create a monopoly, that the supply of electricity was seen as unprofitable, unreliable and dangerous, and it meant digging up the roads to lay cables. It was even suggested, after an influenza outbreak, that this was due to the removal from the atmosphere of electricity which was vital to the health of the community. Such are the trials of new inventions.

The Grenfell Street station was shut down in 1925 after the Osborne power station took over all operations. The building was later used as a Trades School and later still became Tandyana – the National Aboriginal Cultural Institute.

Colin and Margaret Kerr, The Vital Spark, Unpub MS, ETSA, 1979, pp.19-23.

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