Electrical substations are essential points of supply in the electricity network, reducing the high voltage at which electricity is transmitted from power stations, and feeding it to a local distribution area or major industry. When first built, they roused considerable passion. In 1920s Christchurch they were called ‘an eyesore’, ‘an abomination’, ‘a dog kennel … a morgue’. Despite the efforts of the municipal electricity department to design attractive and appropriate facades, a local paper wrote that, ‘The Municipal Electricity Department has always been the enemy of city beautifying. It made a fight to secure sites on river banks for its vulgar little brick substations; it raided a reserve in Opawa, and it erected a sub-station right in the middle of an avenue of trees on the North Belt … (a station that should have been demolished long ago)’. Just occasionally, someone approved of the humble substations. They were ‘good utilitarian buildings’ or ‘a nice little palace’.
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Source: Elizabeth Hatrick, The architectural heritage of Christchurch. Christchurch: Christchurch City Council, 2003, pp. 11, 13