History of UK Wiring Regulations

In 1881 the first public electricity supply in the world was turned on in Godalming in Surrey, where gas street lights were replaced by electrical street lamps based on a system supplied by the German company Siemens. No sooner had the system been activated than the technical press reported issues associated with wiring. The lighting in side streets was dim and of poor quality due to the inadequacy of the cabling. There were also reports of children (and drunks) harming themselves on the exposed wires.

In the next year, the first edition of the British Wiring regulations was published. It was published by the Society of Telegraph Engineers and of Electricians and contained just four pages under the title Rules and Regulations for the Prevention of Fire Risks Arising from Electric Lighting.

The purpose of the Regulations were to ensure that workmanship was of the highest order and that the materials used are of suitable quality to do the work required and that the installations were safe.

The wiring regulations remained the responsibility of what became the Institute of Electrical Engineers (and later became IET) and in 1981 became aligned to IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) standards.

Eleven years later, the regulations became a British Standards document and the harmonisation of wiring regulations became formalised. Further international harmonisation of standards aligns wiring regulations to CENELEC (European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization).

The most recent edition of the wiring regulations is the 17th Edition which was published in June 2008 as BS7671:2008. In July 2011, Amendment 1 to the regulations was published under a green cover and came into force in January 2012. In 2013 a Corrigendum and Amendment 2 covering electric vehicles were published.

A major amendment, Amendment 3 was published in January 2015. This current edition is known officially as Requirements for Electrical Installations, IET Wiring Regulations, BS 7671:2008+A3:2015 (Electrical Regulations), informally known as the ‘Yellow Book’


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