The world’s first power station was designed and built by Lord Armstrong at Cragside, England in 1868. Water from one of the lakes was used to power Siemens dynamos. The electricity supplied power to lights, heating, produced hot water, ran an elevator as well as labor-saving devices and farm buildings.
The first public power station was the Edison Electric Light Station, built in London at 57, Holborn Viaduct, which started operation in January 1882. This was a project of Thomas Edison that was organized and managed by his partner, Edward Johnson. A Babcock and Wilcox boiler powered a 125-horsepower steam engine that drove a 27-ton generator called “Jumbo”, after the celebrated elephant. This supplied electricity to premises in the area that could be reached through the culverts of the viaduct without digging up the road, which was the monopoly of the gas companies. The customers included the City Temple and the Old Bailey. Another important customer was the Telegraph Office of the General Post Office, but this could not be reached though the culverts. Johnson arranged for the supply cable to be run overhead, via Holborn Tavern and Newgate.