An event having great impact on the advancement of Gloucester was the coming of electric lights and power to the town and district.
Imagine Gloucester being lit by only 22 oil lamps, chiefly in the centre of town and one outside the Presbyterian and Methodist (Uniting) Churches. These were lit each night by the Oldfield boys with enough kerosene to last the night. Homes used oil lamps or candles and a wood fuelled stove for cooking and heating water. Hand milking in the dairies was universal.
The story of electricity coming to Gloucester is largely a story of Fred Lowe. Born in Toowoomba (1889) where he received his early education and then in New Zealand, where he was apprenticed to a firm of engineers and studied drawing, applied mechanics and surveying. Returning to Newcastle he was employed in the manufacture and erection of electrical and steam driven pumps.
While doing this he studied Electrical Engineering at Newcastle Tech College. He started a business in Taree repairing cars and doing general electrical work, his services as an electrical engineer were much in demand, being involved in the generation and installation of electricity in Taree, Wingham, Port Macquarie and Wauchope. In 1922 he was invited to tender for the designing and installation of an electrical generating plant in Gloucester.
The Power House was on the corner of Cowper and Church Streets where Mr Lowe was responsible for setting up the plant and designing the power house equipment and later he designed and surveyed lines and equipment for rural extensions. Power was officially switched on in 1923. In the early days he was responsible for procuring and erecting the poles, managing labour and supplies, reading meters, collecting accounts and working two shifts a day in the power house. In 1928, The Gloucester Electric Supply Company connected electricity to the pumps of the first Gloucester water supply on the Gloucester River. After installation the Company was responsible to the Council for the operation and distribution of the system.
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