Initially cities, then towns benefited from the availability of electricity for street lighting.  Generally, the countryside and villages were without supply and remained so until the National Grid became established.







Sycamores pushing over Coal Bunker





The exception was larger country estates, where wealthy landowners had the space and could afford to purchase the expensive machinery and employ full time engineers.  The 1888 Act also gave the incentive for supplying the locality and to build up a viable business enterprise, which could then be sold on at an agreed value.

It was thought that many hundreds of examples of the Country Estate generating station would survive, but in fact a survey commissioned by English Heritage in 1994 revealed remarkably few surviving installations.  In no case has the machinery survived to any degree.  The Old Steam House could equally have disappeared, had its original use not been discovered and preservation put into perspective.


To date, The Old Steam House is the only known example of Country Estate rural generation this side (south) of London, and possibly in Europe, but time will tell.


I  remember in late 1982 or early 1983, a gentleman who walked his dog in the field next door, told me that this was the local generating station.  Unfortunately, I didnít note his name, but he told me that he used to stand on the hill-top between Herstmonceux village and Lime Park and he could see the lights in a shop (the bakery) fluctuating in intensity, in time with the beat of the steam engine.  I havenít seen that gentleman for ten years.


My Local Authority could not confirm the use of the building or the reason for the grouping with Lime House.  As late as 1997 the Local Authority believed it may have been a pump house and indeed it may very well have pumped water in addition to generating electricity, for machinery was installed to make ice - but that appears to be a secondary function.  I kept researching for evidence of the original use of the building.


In July 1997, a friend of mine, Alex Askaroff, advised me to visit Ron Saunders, who lived near Bexhill.  Ron Saunders was 76 when I met him.  He was and remains a market gardener.  He was very clear in his recollection of his time as a junior gardener in Lime Park.  Ron told how his father, Albert Saunders, was the chief engineer who ran the steam engine and serviced the batteries.  He described one room as being filled to ceiling height with batteries as late as 1936; although, he thought the steam engine had gone to Herstmonceux Castle.






Herstmonceux Electricity Generating Works Circa. 1900 - 1936



Introduction  |  Instructions  |  ISBN  |  Batteries  |  Boiler Room   |  Floor Plan  |  Ron Saunders


Industrial Revolution  |   Lime Park  |  Machinery  |  Map  |  Power House  |  Argus 1999


Public Supply  |  Roof Construction  |  Rural SupplySussex Express 1913  |  Conclusion


Archaeology South East   |   East Sussex CC  |  English HeritageSIAS  |  Sx Exp 1999


Memories of Herstmonceux by Margaret Pollard






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