By 1910, steam turbine technology had proved superior to the piston engines installed four years earlier, and four steam turbines were installed for the second stage opening that year. By 1922 the original engines had been removed and replaced with turbines. In 1933, the London Passenger Transport Board took over all road and Underground services in Greater London, including the power stations at Greenwich, Lots Road in Chelsea and Neasden.
The London Transport Conversions to oil and gas firing
In 1967 it was decided to replace the steam turbines with gas turbine plant burning oil delivered, as the coal had been, by river. The changeover from coal made possible a reduction in the staffing level by almost 90 per cent. The most visible evidence of coal firing is the 50 massive steel bunkers, each with a capacity of 270 tons, which occupy the upper part of the Boiler House. The gas turbines were modified in 1975-77 to burn either natural gas or oil, with gas as the main fuel and oil as a back-up. With post-war power stations like Bankside in Southwark already closed and being converted for other uses, London Underground's two remaining generating stations (Greenwich and Lots Road, Chelsea) are rare survivors from early this century.
The future of Greenwich Generating Station
Negotiations were concluded last month for SEEBOARD Powerlink, a private sector consortium, to take over responsibility for London Underground's high-voltage power distribution network. It is planned that Lots Road will be de-commissioned within two years, and that part of the Greenwich plant will be refurbished and retained for emergency back-up use only. London Underground's power requirements will then be purchased from private electricity suppliers for delivery to the system via the Powerlink network.
On the western side of the building are the 11 massive white reinforced concrete reserve coal bunkers added over the yard around 1927. Conveyors were used to transfer coal into and from these bunkers to the boilers, in the latter case on a circuitous route via the pier!
Eight gas turbine alternator units were installed in the former Boiler House with two units exhausting to each of the four chimneys, but more recently one has been taken out of service. They were built by Stal-Laval Ltd. which later became part of the ASEA- Stal Group and is now in the ABB organisation. Each unit has five main components: a gas generator, a power turbine, an alternator, a transformer and an automatic control and monitoring system.
The run-up, loading and shut-down of the gas turbine alternators is fully automatic following the operation of a single push button, and is controlled by equipment located in the two Plant Instrument Rooms which were constructed between each pair of chimneys. Full monitoring instrumentation has been provided to facilitate minimum supervision by staff. If the gas turbine alternator malfunctions, the fault will be registered on the associated control cubicle and, if necessary, the set shuts down.