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Victorian Electrical Transformer, Wimbledon

Restoration of the transformer

By the close of the 19th century, urban electrification (steam-driven by significant quantities of coal) was being increasingly used for local lighting. Some Parish Vestries were able to build their own local power stations and distribution networks, and others subcontracted. Different areas could have direct current (DC) supplies or alternating current (AC) supplies, whose voltage could vary. Often local power stations would be in residential streets, three-storey buildings ornately detailed to blend in with housing. Small iron ‘transformers' were installed to transform power generated at high voltage to power suitable for distribution. Eventually all these local power stations came under the London Electricity Board with the nationalisation of the electricity industry through the Electricity Act of 1948.

This transformer was made by the British Electric Transformer Company, Hayes, Middlesex. It is one of few of these original transformers that still survive around the country. UK Power Networks (UKPN) have been encouraged by the Wimbledon Society, who noted: "Local people have been very protective and appreciate this unique structure. Although ad hoc painting by local residents has taken place over the years, there is a strong local feeling now that it needs to be properly conserved and painted as befits its historic status."

The transformer still contains its original single-phase transformer, fuse board and wiring. The cast iron casing is in five cast sections – including decorative finial – with hinged doors. Inside the is the original transformer equipment from 1875 is preserved. The transformer has been neglected, with a significant crack to the lower cylinder, severe rust and the evidence of many painted colour-schemes over the years. The rust has corroded the bolts and wiring and all fixings are suffering from corrosion.

The cast-iron casing will be restored structurally and decoratively, and all inner components will be cleaned and conserved. Its rust will be removed and its bolts replaced and repainted. The fuse board and fittings will be cleaned and treated with rust inhibitor and the transformer will be repainted in its original colour.

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