DID YOU KNOW: Electricity history of Saint Lucia!

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DID YOU KNOW: Electricity history of Saint Lucia!
A Kitson table lamp
 A Kitson table lamp. * Photo credit: classicpressurelamps.com

Did you know that according to an editorial of the Voice in 1923 that Castries was one of the worst lit towns in the West Indies and one had to struggle to read a book by the light of the petroleum wick lamps, also known as the Kitson lamps? These lamps had illuminated the streets of Castries since 1904.  In that same year the idea of electrical lights was suggested and immediately after the St. Lucia Electricity Company was formed.

Did you know that in 1931 the government secured a loan from the Colonial Development Fund for the purpose of providing electrical street lights in Castries and also to supply residents with electricity?  In 1933, St. Lucia got its first power station which was located on Jeremie Street, and on December 13 of that same year, for the first time, electrical lights were turned on at Columbus Square.

Did you know some residents of Castries including one Leonty Cadet complained to the Town Board, urging the Board to remove the street light on the corner of Peynier Street?  Leonty and the other residents did not like the idea of young men gathering on their doorsteps every night.

Did you know the first village to be completely electrified was Anse La Raye?  This transpired in 1946 and relied on a five kilowatt water wheel DC generator, which was installed on the Adjodha family estate.  Whenever the water level in the river was low, the lights were dim, however the system operated from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

Did you know that in 1960 Dennery obtained a generator set but it was strictly for the use of the hospital?

Did you know that in 1962, in Choiseul, a generator was installed at the water reservoir near the Debreuil junction?

A Kitson table lamp. * Photo credit: classicpressurelamps.com

Did you know that in 1963 that a lister engine was set up in Micoud?  The engine never worked well and two years later it was replaced by a diesel generator.  Lights were also installed on the Vigie Airport runway in 1963.

Did you know that in 1940 a small generator had been supplying electricity to the Canaries presbytery and a few surrounding houses?  It was not until 1964 that the village was supplied with electricity. Also in 1964 Laborie was connected to the Vieux-Fort power grid.

Did you know that while the US Naval Air Station had its own generating system, Gros Islet did not obtain electricity until after 1965?

Did you know that on July 1, 1965, LUCELEC took over full responsibility for the entire electricity system of the island?  According to the Electrical Engineer, “the power station supplies in Castries were depleted and were in danger of collapsing.”  The power station on Jeremie Street, which was rebuilt in 1959, could not meet the needs of the increasing customers and in 1971 a new power plant was built at Union.  This plant eventually became archaic and a new high-tech plant was constructed in Cul De Sac in 1990.

Did you know that in 1937, André DuBoulay installed a water wheel and a diesel generator on his estate to light up the streets of Soufriere and supply a few residences with electricity?  Fourteen years later, the Copra Manufacturers Ltd installed a 100-kilowatt generator which powered the coconut oil factory and supplied approximately 50 households.  Then in December 1952, a hydro-electric plant using two 36-kilowatt hydro-turbine generator units was commissioned for Soufriere. The government handed the system to a specially formed Southwestern Electricity Board, but took it back in 1957.  Then in 1965, the Soufriere system was sold to LUCELEC, the newly formed national electricity company.

Did you know that the American military had built a power station at Beane Field Air Base in Vieux-Fort? In 1949 it was handed to the government then in 1952 a generating site was established at New Dock using two 150 kilowatt units left behind by the Americans. These units were performing below standard. Later in that same year, the USAID donated two units to the government, however in 1965, the system was sold to the national electricity company.

St. Lucia News Online welcomes our readers to this new feature which will run every Tuesday and Thursday. It is written by daughter of the soil Anselma Aimable, a former agricultural officer and former correspondent for Caribbean Net News, who has a deep interest in local culture and history. Send ideas and tips to [email protected]

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7 COMMENTS

  1. we have come a long way, i remember growing up in the early 70s when having you own electrical connection was a dream.

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  2. Wow ! Anse La Raye...and one of last to be developed. Gros Islet the last ...and the most developed. Interesting...looking forward to uour next write-up...Great work.

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