MDE21753 - Early hydroelectric power turbine site at Lynmouth (Monument)


The site of one of the earliest hydroelectric power schemes, opened in Lynmouth in March 1890. It included possibly the world's first public pumped energy storage scheme. Energy production was halted by the flood in 1952.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

Full Description

Probable site of one of the earliest hydroelectric power schemes opened in Lynmouth in March 1890. A weir into a 400m leat diverted water for the turbine from the East Lyn river. To meet peak rate demand in 1895 a reservoir tank was constructed on the top of Summerhouse Hill storing kinetic energy making it possibly the worlds first public pumped storage scheme. Power generation continued until the floods of 15th August 1952 when the foundations were undercut and the plant was inundated. [1] A visit was undertaken in 2000 to Lynmouth Central Station, hydro-electric scheme. The remains of what was probably the world's first pumped storgate scheme (1894) for hydro-electric generation. These comprise a concrete leat, circular reservoir and small hut which housed a screening mechanism between the leat and an overground pipeline. An unusual survival and representative of the period when Britain provided an innovative lead in hydro-electric technology. [2] The Visit Lynton and Lynmouth website provides further information on the power station and includes a photograph of the building. The station was run by the Devon Electric Light Co (formed by Mr Geen) and water was brought through a 400 yard leat before continuing in a 30" iron pipe to the station. The company became the Lynton & Lynmouth Electric Lighting Co. in 1894. and by the time of the 1952 flood the South Western Electricity Board were responsible for the system. The electricity station was never rebuilt, but parts of the leat walls can be still seen, together with the entrance sluice and the stone hut, which stands where the leat joined the supply pipe. The storage reservoir on Summerhouse Hill has been filled in but its outline can still seen. [4] Lynton and Lynmouth, having never had a gas supply were among the first places in Britain to be supplied with hydro-electric power. The innovative plant was opened in 1890 at Glen Lyn on the East Lyn river by local entrepreneur Charles Green. The flood of 1952 did considerable damage and the plant did not reopen until 1962. Following a complete renovation and updating in 1985, the plant operates as a visitor attraction and continues to provide a local source of electricity. [5] Source 5 is clearly incorrect. The 2nd Edition Ordnance Survey map [6] and source [4] together show that the plant is not in the same location as it was previously. [7] The abundance of water led to Lynmouth becoming one of the first localities in 1890 to produce hydro-electric power. The original plant, built by local inventor, Charles Green, was situated on the East Lyn river below Watersmeet Road, at the foot of some cottages which were built for the workers. It was severely damaged in the 1952 flood. [8]

Sources/Archives (8)

  • <1> Monograph: Harris, WB. 1995. Hydro-electricity in Devon: Past, Present and Future. Devonshire Association. 127. 259-286.
  • <2> Report: Chitty, G. 2000. Electric Power (Renewables) English Heritage Monuments Protection Programme Step 4.
  • <3> Report: Trueman, M.. Unknown. Electric Power (Renewables) English Heritage Monuments Protection Programme Step 3 Site Assessments.
  • <4> Website: Various. Various. World Wide Web page.
  • <5> Report: Fisher, J.. 2002. Lynton: Conservation Area Character Appraisal. 7.
  • <6> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1902-1907. County Series, 2nd Edition 25 Inch Map. 1:2500.
  • <7> Verbal communication: Various. Various. Oral Information or Staff Comments.
  • <8> Report: Fisher, J.. 2003. Lynmouth: Conservation Area Character Appraisal. 6.



Grid reference Centred SS 7262 4931 (43m by 22m)
Map sheet SS74NW

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Related Monuments/Buildings (2)

Related Events/Activities (1)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Coastal Risk 2014: Flood Zone 2 fluvial
  • Coastal Risk 2014: Flood Zone 3 fluvial
  • Devon SMR Monument ID: 62951
  • Devon SMR: SS74NW/246

Record last edited

Apr 11 2016 12:34PM


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