Even before the site for the national capital was selected, a source of electrical power was seen as essential for the new city. By the time of the design competition for the Federal Capital in April-May 1911, the Director- General of Works, Colonel Percy Owen, had already selected the present Kingston site as the place for an electricity generation plant.

The key advantage of the Kingston site was its proximity to a planned gauging weir on the Molonglo River just where it was joined by Spring Creek. The weir’s backwater would provide fresh water for the boilers.

In June 1911 the Department of Home Affairs commissioned F W Clements, Chief Engineer and General Manager of the Melbourne Electric Supply Company to design a steam power station for Canberra. The design provided 3 phase, 5 kilovolt distribution for a maximum load of 25,000 persons.

The Department designed and constructed the building from 1912. After dry- pressed shale bricks disintegrated, unreinforced concrete was used for the cladding. Distribution of electricity began in August 1915.

Power was provided by two Bellis and Morcom triple expansion engines coupled to Brush alternators of 600kW each. A single Robey-Hall twin cylinder steam engine driving a 150kW alternator was used for periods of very light loads. Total cost of the station including the plant was £76,861.

Power from the new hydro-electric plant at Burrinjuck Dam was delivered to Canberra in 1929, but the Kingston station continued to be used intermittently until 1957. All machinery was sold for scrap in 1965.

Today, the original building and its environs are government-owned and heritage listed. The building has been redeveloped as the Canberra Glassworks.

Kingston Power Station nearing completion c. 1913

Kingston Power Station in 2010
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