The first windmill for electricity production was built in Scotland in July 1887 by Prof James Blyth of Anderson’s College, Glasgow (the precursor of Strathclyde University).
Blyth’s 33-foot (10 m) high, cloth-sailed wind turbine was installed in the garden of his holiday cottage at Marykirk in Kincardineshire and was used to charge accumulators developed by the Frenchman Camille Alphonse Faure, to power the lighting in the cottage, thus making it the first house in the world to have its electricity supplied by wind power.
Blyth offered the surplus electricity to the people of Maykirk for lighting the main street, however, they turned down the offer as they thought electricity was “the work of the devil.”
Although he later built a wind machine to supply emergency power to the local Lunatic Asylum, Infirmary and Dispensary of Montrose the invention never really caught on as the technology was not considered to be economically viable.
Across the Atlantic, in Cleveland, Ohio a larger and heavily engineered machine was designed and constructed in 1887-1888 by Charles F. Brush, this was built by his engineering company at his home and operated from 1886 until 1900.
The Brush wind turbine had a rotor 56 feet (17 m) in diameter and was mounted on a 60 foot (18 m) tower. Although large by today’s standards, the machine was only rated at 12 kW; it turned relatively slowly since it had 144 blades. The connected dynamo was used either to charge a bank of batteries or to operate up to 100 incandescent light bulbs, three arc lamps, and various motors in Brush’s laboratory.
The machine fell into disuse after 1900 when electricity became available from Cleveland’s central stations, and was abandoned in 1908