• April 21, 2023

I wrote this recently for the Mannin branch pages its about experiments with wind powerin the 1950s. In addition to the turbinres here the experiment was also conducted in Wales and Scotland (Orkney).

Here’s the article:


The Isle of Man Wind Turbine was designed in Britain and installed in 1959

Diameter: 15.2 metres

Sweptarea (m2): 182

Rated Power (kw): 100

Specific area (m2/Kw): 1.8

Rotororieniation: Upwind

Rotor Control: Stall tip brakes

Rated speed (m/s): 18.3

Tip-speedratio: 3.3

The programme was part of a scheme funded by the British Electrical Authority. ERA began a program to develop three 100 kW wind turbines: one in the Orkney Islands, one in Wales and on the Isle of Man.

It seems the IOM turbine was one of the best of the time I found this online:

“The most successful of the British wind turbines of the period is also the least well known. Why that is so, remains a mystery. The wind turbine was operated for The Isle of Man Electricity Authority and remained on site for at least 5 years, far longer than either the Enfield-Andreau or John Brown turbines.

“Installed in 1959 west of South Barrule (it was actually at Cronk ny Fedjag near Little London), the 15.2 m diameter wind turbine used three fixed-pitch blades upwind of the tower to drive the wind turbine at 100 kW at a wind speed of 18.3 m/s with a rotor speed of 75 rpm”

I include a clearer picture of the larger IOM turbine and it certainly matches debris I saw at Harcraft when I worked for the IOM Electricity Board in the mid 1960s

Here is more info on the operation and construction:

“In comparison to the other two turbines, the Isle of Man machine was crude. It used a fantail to orient the rotor upwind of the tower rather than a mechanical yaw system as in the John Brown turbine. It was ungainly. The rotor was mounted directly on an integrated gearbox, possibly a forerunner of American and some Danish designs 20 years later. There was no nacelle at all, unlike the streamlined nacelle, blades, and tower faring on the Andreau turbine. The blades were not cantilevered like that on the Andreau turbine or John Brown design.

“The Isle of Man turbine used struts and stays to brace the rotor not unlike that seen on Juul’s Gedser machine a few years earlier.

“Like the Gedser turbine, the Isle of Man turbine used blades with constant chord. They were not tapered or twisted. Unlike the Gedser blades, the blades on the Isle of Man turbine were extruded out of aluminum.

“The Isle of Man turbine was designed by Irwin and Partners of London, and the turbine was built by R. Smith of Crawley in Surrey

“The designers opted specifically for two features intended to cut costs. They chose to use fixed-pitch blades to eliminate what they deemed the costly blade pitching mechanisms used in the John Brown and Andreau designs. They also chose a blade with a constant chord so they could use cheap extruded aluminum blades. The latter decision “led to far greater savings than originally expected”

That it was cutting edge is illustrated by this quote:

“The report on the Isle of Man wind turbine concluded that “The concept of a constant speed, self-regulating, fixed-blade windmill appears to be a practical way of achieving a rugged low cost windmill” with a low overall cost of generation. Of course, it would await the Danes a few years after Elliots 1975 report was published to accomplish this task with just such wind turbines.”

Image: The larger 100 Kw turbine ther was also a 25 Kw one installed in Mann.

Bernard Moffatt

AGS Celtic League (7th April 2023)

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