Thursday, 2 October 2014

A new generation of
power to the people

With the advent of solar panels and wind turbines townscapes and landscapes are acquiring distinctive new looks. Silsden is no exception as residents and farmers generate their own electricity and hopefully profit by selling any excess to the national grid.   
The photographs above and below show a selection of local installations 145 years since street lighting came to Silsden. In those days the lamps were gas-powered.
UK power generation from solar photovoltaic panels rose 67%, due to increased capacity, in the second quarter of 2014 compared with a year ago, according to the government's Department of Energy and Climate Change.
Generation of renewable energy in the UK set a new record in 2013, and was 30% higher than in 2012. Solar photovoltaics accounted for 14% of renewables capacity, up from 11% in the previous year.

Above: The rear roof of the new health centre in Elliott Street features solar panels. 
Above: gas lamp at Bolton Road End. This photograph was taken before the Conservative Club was built in 1900. Silsden's first street lamps, powered by gas, were lit on October 21, 1869, and the lamp-lighter was "loudly cheered on his way." Within a year Silsden had 27 lamps. The town's first lamp-lighter was Joseph Walker, and next came Samuel Fortune. The salary was five guineas a year (£5 and 5 shillings). 
Above: another gas lamp at Bolton Road End in 1904. This lamp continued in use until 1936. In the early days, the practice was for the lights to be lit at dusk and put out at 11pm (midnight on Saturdays) from October to March. In winter they came on at 5am to light the way for workers. In 1872 William Fortune and Stephen Ramsden admitted vandalising street lamps but escaped punishment by signing a public apology, which was conveyed on 20 posters around the town.

Above and below: farmers on Silsden Moor have invested in wind turbines to generate electricity. The turbines add a majestic dimension to these fascinating, wind-swept landscapes where farming historically has been a constant battle against elemental and market forces.