Leeds nostalgia: This week in 1946: Electricity cuts ‘almost inevitable’

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Seventy years ago today, the people of Britain were contemplating electricity cuts, because the country had practically run out of fuel.

The crisis was summed up by H F L Williams, executive officer of the Public Relations Committee of Electricity Supply Companies, thus: “We are speeding toward winter with fuel stocks so low that some form of rationing is almost certain.”

He went on: “Working with the floors of their coal dumps in view, some electricity companies have less than two week’s stock. This means the slightest hold-up or any other delay in deliveries, will result in some power stations closing down.”

He added that the six power companies in the country had been unable to maintain their policy of provision of plant repairs.”

The presented the Government with a dilemma: to restrict energy supplies to industry, which would inevitably result in unemployment, or to restrict it to homes, which would then see people shiver through the winter.

In other news, police in Leeds were considering getting rid of ‘city boxes’ and replacing them with a series of ‘section houses’, or mini-stations, across the city.

Chief Constable F Swaby said one such ‘section house’ would be built on the Belle Isle estate, becoming a “police station in miniature.”

He said: “We have converted a big air raid shelter next to Middleton School into a section house already. We may convert others.”

Speaking on September 6, 1946, he said they would eventually do away with police boxes altogether, at the same time installing police-only telephone ‘pillar-boxes’, which he said would be for people to use in an emergency.