LPHT - LIME PARK HERITAGE TRUST
HISTORIC GEM - Archaeologically, the old Generating Works in Lime Park, is arguably, the most important building in the village, because it is the only surviving example of early public supply in the whole world. Saved from collapse in 1981, this unassuming complex saw the beginning of the new age of electricity at the turn of the last century. In 1900, the only people who could afford Thomas Edison's 'EdiSwan' light bulbs were wealthy landowners. Even then, only a very few could afford batteries to store power. But in Herstmonceux, they had a massive energy store, with a whole unit full of lead plate batteries on shelves, crammed to ceiling height with huge glass cases filled with gallons of sulfuric acid. This is the very first electricity distribution load-levelling arrangement, and the only example surviving anywhere in the world. The picture above is thought to be of the building around 2014. Over the next seven years coal and glass was dug up all over the site, confirming that when decommissioned, the batteries were sometimes smashed and buried on site. Conservation work continues with the reinstatement of the north wing, a section partly removed and partly collapsed before WWII - not visible in this picture.
As of July 2023, the Generating Station remains a Monument At Risk (MARs), not have a reasonable or beneficial use, where English Heritage (now Historic England) tell that unused buildings should be brought back into use, as a means to incentivise owners to invest in conservation works.
Lime Park Heritage Trust hopes to be able keep the buildings weed and rot free for long enough to open the complex to the public, for accreditation. It is hoped that international recognition will eventually follow, such that the building endures as a heritage asset for future generations to enjoy.
Lime Park Heritage Trust
c/o Herstmonceux Museum
Lime Park, Herstmonceux
Tel: +44 1323 831727
RURAL ELECTRICITY SUPPLIES - A National gas engine of 36 horsepower, single cylinder, with a generator clearly visible on the right hand side of the crankshaft. An engine near identical to this one was fitted at Herstmonceux. This one being at Mr de Roemer's aviation factory at the Crumbles, Eastbourne.
HERITAGE VIEW - A familiar sight to walkers in Herstmonceux, but the building in the distance is one of the most important surviving generating buildings in the world, because of the load-levelling of the public electricity supply, using a large battery store. An added complication, that most municipal installations lacked. But this feature is essential in the fight against climate change. Where renewable supplies (solar and wind power) are not constant, so need buffering, a bit like a large capacitor is used to smooth current flow in electrical circuits. We need to protect this unique example of rural electrification, so many years ahead of its time in terms of the technology applied to solve, what was at the time a noise problem.
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