In 1902, work was started by the London County Council (LCC) on the construction of a new Generating Station (Power Station) at Greenwich for the supply of electricity to their tramway system. Built on the banks of the River Thames at a distance of just half a mile from the Observatory and exactly on the line of the Greenwich Meridian its location was detrimental to the operation of the Observatory. As well as the obvious problem of turbulent air and smoke from the chimneys, there was also a problem of vibration.
What seems rather curious is that no one associated with the Observatory was formally consulted about the location. Even more curious, is that despite the fact the Power Station was being built under his nose, William Christie, the Astronomer Royal, only started to raise objections in 1905 when phase one (of two) was nearing completion. In 1906, he shared his concerns with the Board of Visitors at the visitation which took place on 30 May.
By this time, phase one was up and running, having been officially opened just a few days earlier on Saturday 25 May. As was the norm, details of the visitation were reported in the press. In the ensuing weeks, numerous follow-up articles about the impact of the power station on the Observatory were published and questions asked in Parliament.
An official inquiry ensued. The Report of the committee is reproduced below.
Click here to read more about Greenwich Power Station and the problems it caused for the Observatory.
The set of plans that accompany this report has been scanned in sections which have then been merged (with some loss of quality at the seams). The plans appear to be adapted from a set drawn up in 1905 or perhaps before. They were published in various places including the 1 June 1906 edition of The Engineer.