SSE's heritage - the story so far

Did you know that SSE has probably the finest heritage collection of any UK energy company?  We have large archives in both the south of England and the north of Scotland and a huge collection of objects which tell the story of electricity.

These range from the very first electric lights, to the goddess Phoebe from the first Bankside power station, to funky 1960s home appliances.  A lot of it has already gone online at our test site www.sseheritage.org.uk and there’s more to come.

What are we doing with it and why?  Well, a couple of years ago, we started to think about how to change our heritage offer for the better. We wanted to make it a better fit with the profile of today's SSE.

The company’s merger with Southern Electric came with the unexpected responsibility of a museum, but its visitor footprint was very local. We wanted to find ways to share our heritage more widely and make it work more efficiently to support our company.

So we took the difficult decision to close the museum in its old form - but we carefully kept all its treasures safe.  We also wanted to give more people access to our objects and we plan to hold travelling exhibitions.

An exciting digitisation programme in our archives has already revealed many hidden gems.  One of the most nostalgic are Southern Electric in-house magazines from vesting day in 1948 up to the 1970s.

Many of them are hugely relevant today. For example: how to cope with storms; how to deliver great customer service; how to look after our people and make the electricity industry a great place to work.

Other finds have included the heartbreaking staff record cards of engineers who never returned from the Second World War and photos of the first electric cookers being delivered to the Highlands.

To help in this work, we are creating a panel of honorary "Heritage advisers" of current and retired staff with years of experience and an interest in the history of electricity.  We will look to them for occasional advice, reminiscences, suggestions and insights.

If interested please contact our newly appointed heritage manager Dr John Beckerson using heritage@SSE.com or ring 0750 2207 873. We want you to help us tell our story.

About the author

Gillian O'Reilly Head of Heritage and Community Programmes

Gillian is Head of Heritage and Community Programmes. She is part of the CA directorate and supports SSE's businesses to actively get involved with their local communities. Her responsibilities include employee volunteering, matched funding and charity partnerships. She is also heavily involved in bringing SSE's heritage to life.

Read more articles by Gillian O'Reilly