Parsons' axial flow steam turbine generator, 1902.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Made by Clarke, Chapman, Parsons & Co. Until the invention of the steam turbine by Charles Parsons (1854-1931) in 1884, steam engines could not turn fast enough to produce electricity on a large scale. From 1894, the axial flow turbine, of which this is an early example, was adopted almost universally, and is still used in many modern power stations. The turbine used high-presure steam to operate at approximately 4000 revolutions per minute. It was attached to a dynamo that produced a power output of 60 kilowatts. This set was installed at the National Physical Laboratory, London, where it provided power until 1913.