Power for Progress, 1955

Documentary detailing the story of the Electricity Supply Board (ESB) chronologically from 1927-1955.

Documents Ireland’s first hydroelectric scheme at Ardnacrusha, Co. Clare through footage of the internal and exterior of the power station, development of further hydro stations throughout the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s including Liffey, Erne and Lee. Provides interior and exterior footage of Cathleen’s Falls Station in Co. Donegal including the control room.

Details the development of ESB’s peat stations at Portarlington, Co. Laois and Allenwood, Co. Kildare  noting that Allenwood was the largest of its kind in Europe. Provides footage of Bord na Móna’s peat bogs, harvesting, drying and transport of peat to ESB’s stations. Includes animation explaining the operation of peat stations and construction footage of Ferbane, Co. Offaly and Lanesborough, co. Longford.

Details ESB’s coal and oil stations including footage of Pigeon House, North Wall and Ringsend station noting that the station is due to open in 1956 with the chimney rising to a height of 250 feet, the tallest structure in Dublin. Includes footage of Marina Power Station  in Co. Cork equipped to burn either coal or oil. Provides insights into the operation of the transmission and distribution systems from the stations into costumers ‘ homes. Footage of the transformer and switch station at Inchicore Dublin including switch room noting the operation of the Liffey stations by remote control.

Documents ESB staff at work in the load dispatch office, directing and co-ordinating the workload of all generation transmission, drawing office, women at work and exterior footage of the facade of Georgian buildings on Fitzwilliam Street before the redevelopment of ESB’s Head Office. Notes ESB’s employment of 8000 staff and provides footage of poles and cables, maintenance and repair work and ESB vehicles.

Details the many benefits of electricity in the home, industry and socially with footage of housewives in an all-electric home with kitchen and living room scenes. Domestic scenes includes baking, hoovering, relaxing in the living room. Industrial scenes includes electric lighting on O’Connell Street, hotel and restaurant catering, hospitals, Radio Eireann, projection  room at cinema and green grass houses.

Provides insights into the Rural Electrification Scheme with interior and exterior footage of the scheme. Footage includes planning for the scheme at ESB’s Rural Electrification Office, original rural map of the scheme alongside William Roe, Chief Engineer of Rural Electrification. Exterior footage includes raising of poles, climbing of poles, cables in field, many benefits of rural electrification on the farm with scenes of benefits of piped water, electric pumps, washing equipment, milking cows, infra-red lamps rearing pigs, poultry farm, welding  and drying of grain after the harvest.

Documentary concludes noting ‘our prosperity depends on progress and progress depends on power’.

Duration: 00:17:55
Format: 16mm, black and white

Script Consultant: Michael Higgins
Graphics: Pat Coady
Animation: Theo Hogers
Editor: Merritt Butler
Sound: Liam Saurin
Music: Gerard Victory
Narrated by Eamonn Andrews
Directed and photographed by George Fleischmann