Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Turn that light out!

Who remembers the three day working week arrangements in 1974?

I ask that because of the predictions by OFGEM (the UK power authority - the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets) that we will need to conserve and secure energy supplies.

Well unless you were around in the early to mid seventies, you won't remember the then Conservative government of Ted Heath declared a three day working week to conserve fuel stocks which were running short caused by the work to rule of the National Union of Mineworkers.

This meant that shops and factories and businesses could only have three days of continual power and in effect making a lot of people temporary part timers as electricity supply was cut off from time to time on a rota. I can remember the lights going off at home for periods too.

I started work in 1973 and by the early months of 1974, the three day week was in full swing. Whilst I was lucky in that the department store I was working in (selling shoes) kept us on full time, but an emergency generator kept a temporary string of light bulbs lit high on the ceiling during the many power cuts. Lifts and escalators were out of action while the generators were on and if customers couldn't use the stairs, they never got to use the upper floors to do their shopping.

The light was dim but strangely rather made the place cosy. Shops were not allowed to illuminate their signs or window displays after closing time I think.

Without wishing to be controversial, there could be some more effort into exploring cutting the amount of street light illumination on endless miles of straight trunk roads where there are no pedestrians, stop the lighting of massive private open sites that are closed on a night time, providing grants for solar power to heat our hot water tanks, government funding for wave/water power in our massive rivers and off shore, exploring safer nuclear power, removing some council veto powers against for wind power sites and the exciting news about laser power reported on the BBC news online site a few days ago might be a real asset in the not too distant future.

Large parts of Africa, Middle East, Australia and other suitable sites should host massive solar power sites which would harness the sun's energy and provide most of the worlds fuel needs. Perhaps less money spent on wars, defence, space exploration and other useless projects could divert much needed cash to support this kind of work. Once we have that kind of fuel supply, then start on the luxuries again.

I know people wont like the nuclear power angle and I'm not chuffed about it either, but with all the NIMBYs stopping the world progressing alternative power sources, we may have no alternative.

I went out at 7 pm tonight for my meditation session and guess what - it was snowing! Fortunately, when I came home at 9.30 pm it had started to turn to drizzle and the snow has all but gone.

Chat soon



  1. yes, I can remember! just
    Josie x

  2. I was 10 in 1974 but I remember the lights going out, although I didn't know why at the time, and I remember bombs going off.

    I am researching the Birmingham pub bombings of 1974 but keep hitting a brick wall when I try to read the papers, as the miners were not the only ones striking or working to rule. There was a massive journalist strike too and editors had resorted to writing the news for their papers themselves. An exception was made the morning after the Birmingham bombings, though.

    I think something was ingrained in me at that very young age as I always, always ensure I have candles in stock and I always know where the matches are. I can even find both in the dark. I'm fantastic in a power cut.

    Light pollution is a big soap box of mine. Since I moved from industrial Birmingham to rural Yorkshire I've noticed it more - the stars I've seen for the first time ever have been amazing.

    We can all do something to conserve energy, and some of us have already been doing it to help the environment anyway.

  3. Hi Josie and Diane

    Thanks both for your comments. Amazing isn't it that when you start to research it - I had forgotten all about the bombings! Like you - I always have standard candles in and I know exactly where they are in case the electricity goes off. I'm a bit of a recycling nerd, but I suppose if I gave it a little more thought and time - I could be even more geeky. I regret in many ways not starting this a long time ago and only began about five years ago when colleague Gemma said that she washed out her cat's food tin as an example and I thought how simple it actually was.
    Take care both

  4. I remember very well :)

    I started work in 1976 as a metallurgist (I was a little smarty-pants, who went to uni part time at 12) The research was interrupted frequently because the rolling power cuts shut the annealing furnaces with less than an hours notice. Worse though, we couldn't get our chip butties at the pub at the bottom of the road.

    Alas, the firm was forced out of business because of it. I earned more than my dad, £19 per week :)

  5. Thx for the comment Wheelie - part time uni at 12! My goodness - £19 a week. I started work in 1973 and my pay was £11 a week, a fiver of which was spent on rail fare, the rest on cigs and a meagre lunch every day and all was spent! When the pay restraint came under Ted Heath's Government, I remember getting a 20p per week wage rise!