Major power cut strikes Birmingham | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Major power cut strikes Birmingham

UpdateLIVE: 1pm Wednesday 14th November – Power Outage across the UoB campus A major power cut struck Birmingham on Tuesday evening, leaving students across Selly Oak, the Un...

LIVE: 1pm Wednesday 14th November - Power Outage across the UoB campus

A major power cut struck Birmingham on Tuesday evening, leaving students across Selly Oak, the University and in Edgbaston without power.

The blackout, affecting as many as 50,000 people, was caused by a fire at a power sub-station near the railway in Selly Oak. Houses across Selly Oak, Edgbaston, Harborne and Bourneville were left without power.

Although most power was restored by 10.30pm on Tuesday, many University buildings were still without power on Wednesday, causing some lectures to be cancelled.

The power cut closed Bristol Road between Bournebrook Road and Harborne Lane and train services were also affected.

Police are treating the incident as 'suspected arson'.

Police statement
Detectives investigating a fire at an electricity substation in Selly Oak are treating the blaze as suspected arson.
Officers were called to the substation in Bristol Road at around 8.30pm last night (7 November). The road was closed overnight and reopened just after 5am.The cause of the fire is yet to be determined but officers are treating it as suspicious.'

Police have expressed concern about the risk of crime during the power cut as many students left their houses in Selly Oak to speak to neighbours or find out more information about when the power would return.
Problems were reported with Sky Internet coverage both during the blackout and afterwards.

Whilst most buildings on campus gained power at some point on Wednesday, as of 4.30pm the Business School, Learning Centre, computer Science, Occupational Health, Public Health, ERI, Metallurgy and Materials, Netshape Building, Physics West, Poynting, Barber Institute and Geography Building were still without power.

University statement
It is imperative that staff and students conserve as much electrical power as possible while Western Power work to restore the University's regular supply. The University campus is currently operating on emergency power sources only and in order that the University can keep operating as normally as possible please ensure that only essential equipment is switched on and use electricity sparingly.Parts of the University of Birmingham remain affected by the major power outage caused by the failure of a Western Power sub-station in Selly Oak last night (6th November). University teams worked tirelessly overnight and throughout the day to establish an emergency power supply to as many buildings as possible. However, some buildings remain without power. Students and staff are asked to visit the University website for the latest information.

The University also warned that students in halls of residence may have experienced continuing power outages throughout Wednesday.

Western Power Distribution statement
A power cut occurred in the Selly Oak area around 8.20pm last night, affecting approximately 49,000 customers. Investigations were carried out and it was found that a fire had affected high-voltage cables to the area. Engineers were able to re-route supplies and restore power in multiple stages.Power to 26,000 customers was restored within three minutes and the vast majority of the remaining customers were restored within two hours. We are working closely with Birmingham University and have provided generators until supplies to the site can be fully restored.Permanent repairs to the fire damaged cables is on-going and investigations are being carried out into the cause of the fire.

For more on this story including video from the scene, interviews, photographs and reactions from twitter see


9th November 2012 at 9:01 am

Images from

Anna Kirk