Nostalgia: Electricity comes to town via Stratton Street

PUBLISHED: 14:00 01 May 2007 | UPDATED: 11:49 06 May 2010

The Bay Horse and cottages circa 1900

The Bay Horse and cottages circa 1900

IN THE area now known as Stratton Court, there was formerly a beerhouse called The Bay Horse, which opened in 1832 and was joined to a row of thatched cottages. The pub closed in 1917. Four of the cottages burned down in 1920. They had been occupied by

Stratton Court in 1995

IN THE area now known as Stratton Court, there was formerly a beerhouse called The Bay Horse, which opened in 1832 and was joined to a row of thatched cottages.

The pub closed in 1917.

Four of the cottages burned down in 1920.

They had been occupied by Fanny Duffin, Ann Huckle, Samuel Hale and Mr Knight, with Samuel Wheatley's boot shop and Harry Wells in the former Bay Horse.

The whole site was cleared in 1921.

The First Garden City Ltd first proposed an electricity supply to Biggleswade in 1925 and their showroom and offices had opened by 1929 on the site.

The supply was distributed from the power station at Letchworth to the town from a sub-station behind the showroom.

The site included a supply yard and a house for the manager.

Electricity was then available at 1d (1/2p) per unit.

The company estimated that it would cost a typical private householder £8.2s.8d (£8.14p) per annum for lighting.

A sink water heater would cost an additional £1.8s.1d (£1.41p).

With a labourer lucky to earn £2 per week it was an expensive convenience.

Private houses were connected one-by-one by local private contractors as the convenience over oil and gas lighting was realised for lighting and radio, but electric cooking and heating was for the more affluent.

In 1935 the water heating cost was reduced to 1/2d per unit.

When the supply of electricity was nationalised in 1948, the showroom continued under Eastern Electricity.

After the showroom closed, the sub-station remained but the other buildings were demolished leaving a clear site between the Twitchell and the bridge for redevelopment.

A block of three-storey flats were completed in six months and all sold within 14 days of going on the market, by the end of August 1981.

If any reader has a photograph of the electricity shop, I would appreciate the opportunity to copy it.


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