Bourton Hall electrical switchboard
You might remember reading an interesting piece in our news pages (September 6 edition, page 21) about an old electricial switchboard which has just been rescued from the Grade II listed Bourton Hall at Bourton on Dunsmore and donated to the Internal Fire Museum of Power in Wales.
Well, apparently this isn’t the first time the panel has featured in the Advertiser. Doreen Wilson kindly got in touch to share a cutting and the original picture (above) from September 10, 1982.
The article headed ‘Generating some interest’ tells the story of how four fourth-year GEC apprentices restored it.
Doreen’s son, Michael Wilson was one of these apprentices and is still working for GE.
It says: “Probably one of the largest and most interesting conversation pieces in the district now graces the reception area of Ingersoll Engineering’s head quarters at Bourton Hall. It is a 75-year-old generator control panel which has been painstakingly restored by four craft apprentices at GEC Industrial Controls in Rugby.
Originally used to control the hall’s electricity supply, the 1907 panel was found in a dilapidated condition in the stable block when Ingersoll bought the house two years ago.
It took about two months to restore the panel to its original condition, during which time every part was cleaned, repaired or painted.
And to thank the apprentices for their work, they were presented with socket sets.
A plaque bearing the apprentices’ names has replaced the original ship’s clock at the top of the panel.
GEC Industrial Controls training manager Ken Anstey, who supervised the restoration with his assistant Ernie Crane, said the four apprentices had an insight into the quality of engineering that was available even in 1900.”
They did not know who had built it.
Three of the apprentices are in the photograph with Ingersoll Engineering’s chief executive and managing director Peter Dempsey. They are (from left) Clive Wynn, Michael Wilson and Balvant Mistry. The fourth member of the team, Peter Finney, was on holiday.
Our 2018 story says Bourton Hall was built in 1791 for John Shuckburgh. Between 1906 and 1908 the hall was extended and the house was converted from gas to electric lighting and two direct current generators were installed and connected to a bank of batteries.
As part of the installation, an electrical switchboard was designed and built by JB Cumberland, an electric light and power engineer based in Battersea in London.
The hall was later sold by Ingersoll Engineering to international development charity Practical Action in 1998.
The property is now to become a luxury hotel and Practical Action and new owners Northern Powerhouse Developments recognised the historic importance of the switchboard, ensuring it will now go on display at the museum near Cardigan.