In 1888, Tamworth, 44kms to Manilla's southeast, would become the first place in Australia to undertake extensive street lighting by electricity, replacing the gas lighting system which had operated since its installation in 1882. 3 arc lamps lit Peel street and 59 incandescent lamps were hung from leads to light the entire town.
Manilla's streets would also be illuminated by the late 19th century, although establishing a commencement date is difficult. But by the early 1900s, the Manilla Express was reporting on the success of additional lamps installed to light up the Namoi River Bridge.
Contract Electricity for Manilla 1914
Manilla Municipal Council discussed the benefits of an electrical contract system in 1912, in relation to its worth to a water supply scheme. Following approval, council appointed consulting engineer, Donoghue. His task was to prepare the necessary report and specifications upon which the companies would be asked to tender for the supply of electric light and power for Manilla. In October 1913 the council gave the franchise to the Faulkner-Boll Co. to supply Manilla with electricity.
A start was made on the electricity station in November 1914 and the supply came into operation in July 1915. The system operated satisfactorily until 1921, when wearing machinery and high production costs meant supply became unreliable and expensive. By 1924 the situation had become impossible. An alternative came via management of the plant by L. J. Smithers for the Australian Electric Light Co. and negotiations were subsequently opened with Tamworth Municipal Council for the supply of electricity in bulk to Manilla.
Bulk Electricity Supply from Tamworth 1927
In 1927 Tamworth Municipal Council was one of the first in NSW to undertake the supply of bulk electricity to a neighbouring town, doing this by way of a 33,000 voltage transmission line to Manilla, 28½ miles away. The transmission line was designed for a maximum output of 500 kW distributed between four centres to the north-west :-
Moore Creek (9m Tam.) 25kW.
Attunga (12m Tam.) 25kW.
Sulcor (17m Tam.) 100kW.
Manilla (28m Tam.) 100kW.
The replica Crompton Arc Light pictured here, was erected by Peel-Cunningham County Council in the 1990s, in the grounds of Manilla Heritage Museum, to commemorate the supply of bulk electricity to Manilla from the Tamworth Power Station in 1927.
Lighting the Namoi Bridgeworks 1885
Mid-way through the construction of the iron traffic bridge over the Namoi river at Manilla in September 1885, George Royce treated his workers to a dinner under the bridge deck. That evening saw the starting up of a steam power generated electric light, which would allow the work of bridge-building to go on around the clock.