THE KEEP - EAST SUSSEX COUNTY COUNCIL MONUMENT RECORDS

 

  SMR NUMBER MES23175 C.19-C.20 LATE 19TH CENTURY GENERATING STATION

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The Keep, Lewes, historical records archive Cira 1898 - 1909

 

 

RARE SURVIVING TIMBER BUILDING - When Howard Carter discovered Tutankhamun's tomb in 1922, the dig was not much to look at. A lot of sand and a small entrance, amongst a desert of dunes. But once inside, the small chamber, the Egyptologist realised that the monument was intact. Hence was a treasure trove.

 

The old Generating Works in Lime Park is not of outstanding design or construction (except for the use of redwood and architrave). The astonishing fact is that it remains extant, where others have been demolished by property developers, or rotted away. Indeed, many former residents in Lime Park, and two recent newcomers, have not grasped that this is all that is left as evidence of our transition from coal, to electricity. The only example surviving anywhere on the planet of its kind, including load levelling via a giant battery store proportional to the enterprise, comprising roughly half of the building, with substantial shelves where weighty glass lead-acid batteries were stored, to power the whole village of Herstmonceux, and Lime Part estate, overnight.

 

 

 

 

Following a site survey and subsequent Report by London University's Archaeology South East in 1999, East Sussex County Council admitted this industrial complex to their Site Monument Record (SMR) under reference number: MES23175.

 

DESCRIPTION

 

The generating buildings were unusually for a coal-fired installation, constructed in timber, thought to be of a redwood variety. The building is double gabled using a three layer roof system, consistent with the period: truss, purlins and rafters.

 

According to Ron Saunders, the building was lined inside and out with timber boarding. It has not been substantiated, but is widely believed that the building had a slate roof. Later, as a fire precaution (after generation ceased in 1936) the building was covered in corrugated iron. At this time timbers were stripped from the building, leaving some areas, just a bare timber framework.

 

The quality of the timber joinery and internal lining, wherever extant, is far higher than would be expected in an industrial building. There are mouldings and architrave on the frames and in corners even where one may not have appreciated the craftsmanship.

 

The buildings are the most obvious physical evidence of the generating station. Yet, other features remain on and in the ground as important clues to the type and capacity of machinery.

 

The dimensions of the concrete mounts and the flywheel trough indicate a medium size reciprocating steam engine. A
broken pulley of approximately 12" diameter, unearthed on site is similar in design to those used on
Edison-Hopkinson dynamos. 

 

One of the buildings was included in the Monument Protection Programme undertaken by English Heritage.

 

A building occupying a similar footprint to Limestone cottage is shown on the 1st edition OS mapping.

 

No change in the shape of the building can be seen on the 2nd edition OS.

 

By the 3rd edition OS the single building has been replaced with two small square buildings, occupying the same footprint as the modern structure.

A building survey of The Old Steam House was carried out in 1999. While the date of the building couldn't be identified precisely, anecdotal evidence and newspaper references suggest the (current) building dates to sometime between 1909 and 1913. [Though there is a well bell dated 1890, over the extant well, the only example in the village still supplying water as the main source for the buildings]

 

 

 

 

 

MONUMENT TYPE: POWER STATION

 

EVIDENCE: EXTANT BUILDING

 

NATIONAL GRID REFERENCE: TQ 6364 1224  (TQ61SW)

 

CIVIL PARISH: HERSTMONCEUX

DISTRICT: WEALDEN

 

ARCHAEOLOGICAL NOTIFICATION AREA: 1621  CHAPEL ROW  (ACTIVE)  DES10982

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Trust needs help to maintain this interesting industrial complex. The buildings have no reasonable or beneficial use, the local authority doing all they can to prevent conservation. Placing manifold obstacles in the way, where they should be helping those interested in restoring the historic asset, to achieve that ideal. As of June 2022, the chief executive Trevor Scott, and taxation officers (Michael Wakefield) have refused to confirm the legality of renting parts of the property, to generate an income. Sussex police may need to be called in to investigate what appears to be negligence, or institutionalised discrimination, both of which are common law criminal offences of malfeasance in public office - after R v Dytham [1979] 1 QBD 722, (1979) 69 Crim App R 722.

 

 

 

Additionally, in 1999, Herstmonceux Generating Station was included on Step 4 of a Monument Protection Programme (MPP) undertaken on behalf of English Heritage (now Historic England).

 

There are two entries for Sussex on this record, the other being Batemans, Rudyard Kipling's home at Burwash. Kipling's installation powered 10 light bulbs internal to Batemans, via a watermill and belt driven dynamo.

 

You can visit the record at TheKeep, in person or via their online search service, or the HER maintained by ESCC.

 

 

LINKS & REFERENCE

 

https://www.eastsussex.gov.uk/environment/archaeology/her

https://www.thekeep.info/east-sussex-historic-environment-record-her/
https://www.thekeep.info/collections/getrecord/ESHER_MES23175

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FREEDOM OF THOUGHT AND SPEECH - This website is protected by Articles 9 and 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and Articles 18 and 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Herstmonceux Walkers Association avers that the right to impart information is a right, no matter that the method of communication is unpalatable to the State.

 

 

 

 

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