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#151692 - 06/09/02 04:07 PM Memories of 1973/74 blackouts
pauluk Offline
Member

Registered: 08/11/01
Posts: 7693
Loc: Norfolk, England
Back in 1973/74 we had the Arab oil crisis which hit Britain as it hit the U.S.A. Fuel prices soared, lines formed at the gas pumps, and here in the U.K. some industry was forced into shorter working weeks. Power blackouts started to become fairly common.

It wasn't just the oil crisis though, because we also suffered major strikes by power workers and miners at the time (Britain in general was plagued by strikes throughout the 1970s).

At one point it got so bad that the "electricity boards" (as they were called then) started to issue weekly announcements in the form of a printed table. It was divided into rows of squares for each day of the week, with the hours printed across the top.

Each square was printed white, gray, or black to indicate low, medium, or high probability of a blackout ("power cut") in that period.

Now, as the 8-year-old boy I was at the time, naturally I looked forward to the periods marked in black with a certain anticipation and sense of adventure! The few times (very few as I recall) that a black period came and went without the lights going off was sheer disappointment! Then there were those pesky gray squares: Will it or won't it?! And yes, there was the occasional bonus of a blackout during a white period.

If the blackout lasted into the evening, it meant dinner cooked on a portable gas camp stove and sitting around with candles and flashlights. If we were really lucky, it might mean a day off school!

Of course, my parents probably didn't see it quite the same way, and after a while it led to my father buying a couple of RV-style 12-volt fluorescent lights and running wiring back to a spare battery and charger in the cupboard under the stairs.

The battery also served to run the little 12" portable TV that came up from our holiday trailer. (Many times the local transmitter was off as well, and it meant watching a somewhat snowy picture from a more distant transmitter, and sometimes that was off too!)

The camping stove continued in fairly frequent use until the crisis was over.

If it all happened again today, I wonder if I'd still be able to see it as the great adventure I saw it as back then. Probably not.

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#151693 - 06/09/02 06:45 PM Re: Memories of 1973/74 blackouts
sparky Offline
Member

Registered: 10/18/00
Posts: 5545
I had just passed my drivers license exam, i had a 64' Ford Falcon wagon , a crackerbox yet beheld as the shagwagon of the century at the time.
I ran out of gas in a long line at the pumps and had to push it along as the line shortened.
The pump jockey joked....
"you got a license to push kid.....?"

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#151694 - 06/11/02 03:54 AM Re: Memories of 1973/74 blackouts
pauluk Offline
Member

Registered: 08/11/01
Posts: 7693
Loc: Norfolk, England
I wasn't buying gas then, of course, but I remember the prices jumping from about 40 pence to 60 pence a gallon almost overnight.

Didn't get my license until '83 (min. age is 17 here). Gas was still only a little over £1 a gallon then, if I recall correctly. (Sigh!)

My first car? It was a 1964 Hillman Imp, a really tiny car with a rear engine, looking a little like a much smaller version of your Corvair. It was about 8 years later I discovered the pleasures of American cars when I went to the other extreme and bought a '72 Pontiac LeMans.



[This message has been edited by pauluk (edited 06-11-2002).]

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#151695 - 06/11/02 01:23 PM Re: Memories of 1973/74 blackouts
Bjarney Offline
Moderator

Registered: 04/10/02
Posts: 2561
Loc: West-Southern Inner-Northeast ...

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#151696 - 06/16/02 04:40 AM Re: Memories of 1973/74 blackouts
pauluk Offline
Member

Registered: 08/11/01
Posts: 7693
Loc: Norfolk, England
The California power crisis even got mentioned on the TV news over here, briefly.

What's the situation like now?

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#151697 - 06/16/02 09:27 AM Re: Memories of 1973/74 blackouts
Bjarney Offline
Moderator

Registered: 04/10/02
Posts: 2561
Loc: West-Southern Inner-Northeast ...
paul-- It's been out of the headlines for the about the last year. Some 'peaker' plants got on line on a fast-track basis, to take care of some bottlenecks.

Here, lost power once for almost exactly one hour.

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#151698 - 12/12/02 12:18 PM Re: Memories of 1973/74 blackouts
pauluk Offline
Member

Registered: 08/11/01
Posts: 7693
Loc: Norfolk, England
Looking back through the forum and thought I'd revive one or two old threads.

BJ and our other California guys: How's the power situation in your state now? I haven't heard anything more about it recently.

And to our new U.K. members, do you have any memories of the 1970s power problems?

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#151699 - 12/12/02 04:12 PM Re: Memories of 1973/74 blackouts
Bjarney Offline
Moderator

Registered: 04/10/02
Posts: 2561
Loc: West-Southern Inner-Northeast ...
Except for the lawsuits covered in the press, it's like it never happended.

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#151700 - 12/13/02 08:09 AM Re: Memories of 1973/74 blackouts
classicsat Offline
Member

Registered: 11/23/02
Posts: 449
Here in Ontario Canada, which has somewhat
de-regulated power, there is more or less a guarantee of power as a whole (no planned
blac/brownouts), for those that pay there bills.

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#151701 - 12/14/02 08:58 AM Re: Memories of 1973/74 blackouts
pauluk Offline
Member

Registered: 08/11/01
Posts: 7693
Loc: Norfolk, England
Glad to hear that CA is back to normal again.

There's been no more mention of our recent outages on the news, although I think a few people are still trying to get compensation from the utilities.

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