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strange power socket

any information?

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Anthony Knights15/08/2019 02:53:56
619 forum posts
242 photos

Found this in a box of electrical bits. It's about the same size as a 13 amp socket. It must be quite old because the screw (there should be 2) holding the two parts together is 1/8th inch x 40 tpi. I was wondering if it lost out to the 13 amp socket when the when we changed from the 15 amp round pin plugs.socket1.jpg opened-1.jpg

I.M. OUTAHERE15/08/2019 06:22:18
1468 forum posts
3 photos

Looks like a Wylex plug which it clearly says on the front of the socket at the bottom .


Edited By XD 351 on 15/08/2019 06:25:20

not done it yet15/08/2019 06:28:42
6736 forum posts
20 photos

Checked ‘goggle”?

Early hit is museum site. May be more.


Museum means probably old and superseded. These were introduced in 1926. Perhaps an enquiry to them might be fruitful?

The fact that they were used (and now are not) would indicate that they were replaced by a later British Standard. I doubt they were the only design back then as the electrical distribution system was still developing.

Michael Horner15/08/2019 06:40:52
222 forum posts
63 photos

Hi Anthony

Wish I still had the fork with the bent prong! My mother kept it as a reminder.

I think that is why they eventually went to the shutter type of domestic socket.

On here they call it Darwinism! smiley

Cheers Michael.

Anthony Knights15/08/2019 06:49:05
619 forum posts
242 photos

I did google "Wylex" and got their site which obviously shows their present (was going to put current) products.

Speedy Builder515/08/2019 06:58:09
2593 forum posts
208 photos

Special sockets were made for public services. At one time, the London underground had specials and even today, you can find 13 amp sockets with "Blocking" earth pins.


Speedy Builder515/08/2019 07:02:57
2593 forum posts
208 photos

And a plug for your socket


From Wikipedia:-

Wylex plug[edit]

Prior to the first British Standard for earthed plugs, George H. Scholes Ltd. of Manchester introduced plugs with a hollow round earth pin between rectangular current-carrying pins in 1926 under the Wylex brand name.[26] The Wylex plugs were initially made in three ratings, 5 A, 10 A and 15 A and were unpolarized (the current carrying pins were on the same centre line as the earth pin). In 1933 an asymmetric polarized version was introduced, with line pin slightly offset from the centre line.[26] In 1934 the dual plug system was introduced with the socket rated at 15 A and three sizes of plug, fused 2 A and 5 A plugs and a 15 A plug. The 15 A "dual plug" incorporated a socket with narrower apertures than a standard Wylex 15 A socket, that accepted only the narrow rectangular pins of the lower-rated plugs.[26] The introduction of a 13 A fused plug, rated as 3 kW.,[90] enabled Scholes to propose their system as a possible solution for the new standard competing with the Dorman & Smith round pin solution, but it was not selected and the completely new BS 1363 design prevailed.[91] Wylex sockets were used in council housing and public sector buildings and, for a short time in private housing. They were particularly popular in the Manchester area although they were installed throughout England, mainly in schools, university accommodation, and government laboratories. In some London schools built in the 1960s they were used as low-voltage AC sockets, typically 12 V, 5 A from a transformer serving one or more laboratories, for microscope lamps etc. Wylex plugs and sockets continued to be manufactured for several years after BS 1363 sockets became standard, and were commonly used by banks and in computer rooms during the 1960s and 1970s for uninterruptible power supplies or "clean" filtered mains supplies.

Edited By Speedy Builder5 on 15/08/2019 07:04:30

SillyOldDuffer15/08/2019 07:19:36
8492 forum posts
1896 photos

My school science block built approx 1958 had them on the benches and I've also seen them in computer rooms.

In computer rooms, they were mainly to stop cleaners unplugging servers to run a vacuum cleaner, and also to ensure no-one ran a badly suppressed motor on the clean supply. In schools, the idea was to stop people nicking electricity and borrowing equipment.

The modern computer room equivalent to the Wylex is just like an ordinary 3-pin plug/socket except line and neutral pins are vertical rather than horizontal.


Anthony Knights15/08/2019 07:21:16
619 forum posts
242 photos

Thqnk you for the info Speedy Builder5. It seems to have been the first system with fuses in the plug. Looked at the plug museum site and after clicking on one picture, ended up on Ebay where there are numerous obsolete electrical fittings for sale. I wish I had known this back in 2016 when I binned a load of 13 amp plugs with un-shrouded pins.

Don Cox15/08/2019 09:08:48
59 forum posts

My father ran his own electrical contracting business following the second world war and was able to have the opportunity to buy a house on a small development, on the outskirts of Bath, where he was installing the electrics. As I understood it in later years (I was three when we moved in) ring mains were a new innovation then, everything previously had been spur wired and sockets were usually a maximum of 15A. As domestic electrical appliances became more common more sockets were needed (I have seen electric irons run off of lamp holders) which created cupboards full of switch fuses to control each socket, some of these were double pole fused which made for even more ironwork. He opted to use the Wylex plug and socket system and I remember our house being unusually well provide with socket outlets, all neatly terminated to a single consumer unit. Meanwhile the MK system was starting to appear and I think the British Standard was written around this. In the end he was forced to accept the change and MK pattern became the order of the day in his house. Some while back a 16A plug design was talked about but never adopted.

Mike Poole15/08/2019 09:53:28
3306 forum posts
73 photos

The factory I worked in had most of these socket variations as believe it or not people would steal the standard 13A plugtops. People would also use kettles and radios of their own which was not approved of and unplug factory equipment to make their tea. The other crazy thing in the factory was the use of red for the earth cable, apparently during and after WW2 cable supply was difficult and red was the only colour that was usually in a cable so it was selected as earth, you can see some sort of logic to this but for anyone not aware could be very dangerous. I served my apprenticeship in the early 70s and did encounter a convector heater with this standard, this required a mandatory rewire to the current standard.


Neil Wyatt15/08/2019 10:43:24
18992 forum posts
734 photos
80 articles

Were still about when I used to stand in behind the counter in my dad's shop in the 70s.

The worst was the 2-pin version that was just two brass split pins (no earth) that you could unscrew the top off while it was still plugged in!


Georgineer15/08/2019 21:41:24
565 forum posts
32 photos
Posted by Mike Poole on 15/08/2019 09:53:28:

... The other crazy thing in the factory was the use of red for the earth cable ...

This was, and may still be, a US practice. In the 1960s my father bought a US-made 8 mm film editor and was puzzled to find that the mains lead conductors were white, black and red. When he checked, he found that the switch was in the white lead and the metal case was connected to the red. He changed the mains lead to make sure that nobody ever got caught out. (I still have it, and it has never caught me out!)


old mart15/08/2019 22:29:26
3721 forum posts
233 photos

The current standard of plugs and sockets was definitely in use by 1960, as we moved into a tudor cottage which had just been rewired. The wiring was pvc, it had a 4 way consumer unit made by Wylex and a French made Chilton 500mA earth leakage circuit breaker. It wasn't easy to buy plugs at first as it was all so new-fangled. I took one of those old fashioned Chilton elcb's apart a few years ago and the design was similar to the modern rccb's .

AdrianR16/08/2019 09:16:07
573 forum posts
36 photos

I can see why that socket did not catch on, it is three sided like USB. Try to plug it in, it does not fit. Turn it over and it does not fit. Turn it over again and it fits. wink

stevetee16/08/2019 10:13:12
144 forum posts
14 photos

I'm not saying they all were , but some Wylex plugs were stackable, having socket capability on the rear of the plug.

The factory is still there , in Sharston , close to where the M56 spurs off from the M60. We used to go 'tracking' on our bikes on some waste land opposite the factory.

Geoff Theasby16/08/2019 10:33:32
613 forum posts
17 photos

S.O.D., I have one of those 'alternative' 13 amp plugs. I often wondered at its purpose, and only kept it as a curiosity.

john fletcher 116/08/2019 11:11:13
785 forum posts

On "Vintage Radio" there members who collect socket outs and have a lot of info/dates about when and where they were first installed. Should any one need any info about AVO meters, Vintage Radio is the place to go, circuit diagram / help on repairs etc readily available. John

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