Industry: water, steel & energy

Davenport, Frank (8 of 11) An Oral History of the Electricity Supply in the UK

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  • Recording date

    2013-10-16, 2013-10-23, 2013-11-20, 2013-11-28, 2014-01-22

  • Interviewees

    Davenport, Frank (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Lean, Thomas (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 8: Remarks on FD membership of CIGRE committee on substations: FD appointed when he left SSEB in 1963, becoming chairman in 1975; chairing large presentations at biennial conferences; outline of duties of CIGRE substation committee and subcommittees; anecdote about being taken to task on international work during media training; [05:40] FD 8 year chairmanship; learning much from international conferences; anecdote about rest of Europe rejecting use of ground supported bus-bars in substations, British practice differing with European due to concerns over visual impact of substations; [08:30] value of contacts through CIGRE, such as Yves Thomas the EDF cross-channel link project manager; different countries keen to have CIGRE meetings to expose engineers to debates; FD feelings about role of chairman of committee; nationality limits on numbers of chairmen; FD and Tom Calverley British chairmen; anecdote about poor conditions in Moscow in 1975; [13:10] anecdote about evening at circus to celebrate 30th anniversary of end of second world war. [14:05] Remarks on tripartite meetings between Tennessee Valley Authority and Ontario Hydro at Chatanooga, differences in environmental concerns and permissions between countries. [16:35] Remarks on Institution of Electrical Engineers [IEE]: FD membership from 1950; local meetings around country; FD attending meetings in Savoy place after his move to London; anecdote about FD surprise at finding himself chairman of power division; FD Hunter Memorial Lecture, sponsored by cable makers BICC; FD Christmas lecture to school children, coinciding with CEGB's Peter Howard giving Hunter Memorial Lecture; IEE continued involvement with retired IEE members section; [21:10] FD Hunter Lecture on transmission network; description of filming of FD Christmas lecture 'The Power Behind The Plug'; anecdote about FD concerns over audiences of Christmas lectures; [24:30] description of divisional structure of IEE and responsibility of power division; discussions over environmental concerns, such as loud circuit breakers and health concerns over transmission lines; membership of power division; FD predecessor Donald Miller little involved with social side of power division; subsidiary meetings around Power Division and networking over dinners. [29:20] Remarks on: FD invited to join CIRED international distribution committees; FD involvement with British Standards committees; anecdote about selection of 230 volt as international standard for voltages, light bulb manufacturers desiring tight tolerances over voltage. [34:10] Remarks on electrical cables: historical overview of composition of high voltage cable insulation; description of cooling arrangements for underground cables by cooling insulator oil or use of water pipes; anecdote about cooling station designed to look like a pirate's castle along 400kV cable by Regent's Canal; high cost of underground cables; manufacturers doing most underground cable development; higher rating of UK network than many continental lines; need for cooling of underground cables to allow similar high voltages to high voltage lines. [40:15] Comments on start of work at Electricity Council: Council decision to create engineering department; John Addison becoming manager of engineering department ahead of FD; story about FD became leader of engineering department in 1982 after Addison’s death; FD expecting to bored by job on low voltages systems after work on high voltage network, but pleasantly surprised by challenges of developing automation for distribution system; [44:00] contrast of automation of CEGB and Area Board electricity networks; Council staff making it clear they wanted FD to apply for post; Council members; anecdote about FD retirement and Roger Farrance reading out FD letter sent to Electricity Council Chairman before he joined, protesting the lack of challenge in the role; FD attending Electricity Council meetings over months notice from CEGB; FD familiarity with Electricity Council staff. [49:00] Description of Electricity Council premises in buildings at Millbank, engineering department in tower block. [50:00] Remarks on role of Electricity Council engineering department: encouraging standardisation between area boards; delegation of specialist responsibilities to Chief Engineers of Area Boards, such as SEB Chief Engineer's role investigating standards for cables; role of Chief Engineer's conference to coordinate work and produce industry standards; description of monthly Chief Engineers' conference, including area board Chief Engineers and representatives from CEGB, previously including FD; differences of opinion between Area Boards and CEGB over technical systems and their expense; CEGB need for higher technical standards due to magnitude of responsibilities. [54:15] Remarks on Electricity Council role interfacing with Government: anecdote about FD presentation to Secretary of State Cecil Parkinson and Minister for Electricity [David Mellor] over electricity theft and meter tampering; FD appearances at select committees; great interest of politicians in industry, particularly in run up to privatisation; anecdote about metering select committee with Ray Orson and SEEB Chairman Bob Peddie, when FD and Bob Peddie were accused of not co-operating. [1:00:55] Remarks on FD other duties at Electricity Council: liaison with British Electrical and Allied Manufacturers' Association [BEAMA]; work with British Standards Authority [BSA] on standardisation.

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