THE huge Liverpool power station was built to cope with the surge in demand for electricity with much of the current needed to power the city's new electric trams. It was 1900 and electrically-propelled vehicles were taking over from the traditional horse-drawn tram cars while electric light was superseding gas.
Lister Drive Power Station, in Stoneycroft, was in reality two stations, Number 1 and Number 2, constructed as a direct result of Liverpool Corporation taking over two companies.
The city bought the Liverpool Electric Supply Company in 1896 and the following year the Liverpool Tramways and Omnibus Company.
Times were changing fast and it was doubtless felt that the1se two key operations should be in public ownership to ensure services would not be compromised by commercial interests.
A site was chosen on Lister Drive named after prominent cotton broker and local resident James Lister, left, of Basil Grange, Sandfield Park. He was chairman of the West Derby Local Board when the drive was laid out.
The Lister Drive Power Station, with its four towering chimneys, dominated the surrounding area for decades.
The engine rooms were 247 ft long, 52 ft wide and 37 ft high. Twelve Williams vertical engines set in concrete ran at 230 revolutions per minute with outputs of up to 1,500 horse power. Boiler houses stood on either side of the engine rooms, supplied directly with coal from London and North Western Railway trains in adjacent sidings. There was no cooling pond, so condensing water was pumped into cooling towers, also prominent features of the local landscape.
In 1905, Liverpool had the equivalent of 104 miles of single-track tramlines made out of 60 ft girder rails weighing about 95 lbs per yard.
There were 469 trams in stock with about 400 in regular service. Most of the trams were double-deckers with a 6 ft wheel base.
Trams were originally open-topped, which was acceptable in good weather but very uncomfortable in winter or during downpours. Liverpool pioneered enclosed top decks and the style was soon adopted by other towns and cities. The Liverpool tram service employed 2,400 people, including 350 maintenance men.
They were kept busy. The city's trams covered a total of 12m miles in 1905, carrying 119m passengers.
The demise of Liverpool's trams in 1957 sounded the beginning of the end for Lister Drive. No 1 station closed in 1958 and industrial decline in the 1960s saw demolition of the power station buildings, including the removal of the big chimneys.
Fiddler's Ferry, near Warrington, took over and the last remnants of Lister Drive were cleared in the 1990s to be replaced by a business park.
? Stephen Guy is a director of the historic Lowlands West Derby Community Centre. Details at www.lowlands.org.uk or 0151 226 5352.
LINED UP: A Liverpool electric tram, in 1905 POWER POINT: The Lister Drive power station, Stoneycroft, with its huge chimneys