National Grid Control
National Grid Control
A summary of the National (Electricity) Grid Control from 1938 to 1996.

Photo: Grid Control in 'The Hole' 1950 © National Grid.
| EXIT | National Grid Control | Paternoster Square | Bankside House | Consolidation |

The Beginning of Control

In 1938 the National Grid Control was established at Park Street, Bankside. Electricity supply could now be controlled from one place. It's understood that the Area Control for the South East and East of England already existed.

World War Two bombings in London lead to the Central Electricity Board CEB) securing the vital control centre by moving it into the four shafts of the (disused) 'Post Office' # underground station. The transfer was completed between October 1940 and February 1941. Nicknamed 'The Hole' by its workers, the control centre survived the central London devastation of December 1940 and thus by August 1941 the 13-room control was fully operational.

# The 'Post Office' tube station was at the junction of King Edward Street and Newgate Street. It was renamed 'St. Paul's' in February 1937. In January 1939, a new entrance to 'St. Paul's' tube was opened in Cheapside.

Paternoster Square  
Paternoster Square
National Grid Control, Thames North and Thames South.

Photo: Grid Control Centre at Paternoster Square 1950 © National Grid.
In 1950, the nationalised British Electricity Authority (BEA) took on the task of standardising the control centres and thus a new (temporary) control was built on a bomb-flattened area of Paternoster Square. The  equipment plant room remained in the underground tube, but the operating interface of dials, indicators and switches was relocated to the new pre-fab building.
At the same time the South East and East England Control Area was divided into new grid control areas named Thames North and Thames South.

Bankside House  
Bankside House
In the background, Bankside House. In 1996 the property became a student hall of residence for the London School of Economics (LSE).

Photo: View from Bankside Power Station, looking through the compound towards Bankside House © Fynevue Feb 2012.
Bankside House was built circa 1950 as ancillary office space for the redeveloped Bankside Power Station and as HQ for the newly established Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB).

Thames North Control moved to Redbourne circa 1956 and Thames South Control to East Grinstead in 1957 as the nuclear threat of the Cold War became more prevalent.

Despite this, Temporary National Control moved to the eighth floor of Bankside House in 1957. A New National Control was created in the same location to co-ordinate the seven Area Controls and coincided with Queen's opening of Bankside Power Station in March 1962.

As the CEGB expanded, its new HQ, Sudbury House (18 storeys) was built at 15 Newgate Street (demolished 1998).


The oil crisis of the 1970s and greater environmental pollution controls placed many of the city based, oil and coal,  generating plants under threat and from 1981 a closure program removed 16 stations from the network.

By 1984 the CEGB had rationalised its three tier grid control, by merging the area and the district controls.

Finally, with advances in communications and remote monitoring, by 1996 a new National Control Centre in Wokingham (Berkshire) replaced the seven regional control centres.


'Electricity Supply in the UK: A chronology' by the Electricity Council 1987
'Grid@75' by National Grid
'London's Secret Tubes' by Andrew Emmerson and Tony Beard

 Design, images and text compiled by Fynevue Chronicles. Page last updated Feb 2016 revision.

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