Museum of Plugs and Sockets logo, small Classic British round pin
earthed plugs and sockets
navigation icon navigation icon navigation icon


Most classic round pin plugs with protective earth, in the museum collection, meet the BS 546 standard effective at the time of plug production. Furthermore a BS 1778 socket is shown, and non-BS material made by Niphan and Clang.

Material of BS 546 precursors is shown on a separate page.

Related galleries:
classic 2-pin plugs, BS 372
classic plugs and sockets used in South Africa


Classic model B 546 plug BS546 Clix plug (inside) 15A BS546 fused plug 15A BS546 fused plug, inside

Temco 5A BS546 socket with switch
Classic G.E.C. BS 546 5A plug
Classic BS 546 2A plug

1, 2
BS 546 15A CLIX plug. No tools are necessary to attach wires to the pins of Clix plugs. Press the copper pins firmly down to fix the wires (see image No. 2). The top part of the Bakelite housing keeps the pins in position (as long as the screw that fix the two parts of the housing is securely tightened !).   {JM}
3, 4 15A BS 546 plug with a 5A BS 646 cartridge fuse. A cavity, indicated by the green arrow, offers space for a spare fuse.
This 15A plugs have a 5A fuse, rather than 15A
, because a 15A fuse would offer no more protection than the main fuse on the distribution board. Brand name: MK Electric.   {JM}
5 Bakelite BS 546 5A socket with switch. The socket does not have safety shutters. The device was recovered from the demolition of barracks at RAF Upper Heyford, Oxfordshire, England. The base was closed in 1994. Manufacturer: Temco, which was a brand of the Telephone Manufacturing Company, London (TMC). The electrical accessories branch, was sold in the early 1950s to Ward & Goldstone.   {DH}
6 Bakelite BS 546 5A plug, made by General Electric Corporation (G.E.C.). Late 1940s - early 1950s.   {JM}
7 Classic 2A BS 546 plug.   {WN}

Crabtree BS 546 5A socket and plug

Scale of images 8 and 9 differs. The (outer) diameter of the 5A socket is 46 mm (1.8"), whereas
the 15A socket has a diameter of 79 mm (3.1").

Classic GEC 15A BS 546 socket



Classic BS 546  5A socket and plug, made in England by Crabtree. L and N pins have insulating sleeves. The plug has a cord side exit (see image a) and an earth pin inspection hole on the opposite side (green arrow in image b).
The earth pin has and uncommon constriction, see green arrow in image c. It could be that the constriction serves to secure the plug in an interlocking socket (see No. 19). However, the earth contact (image e) of this socket does not have a locking mechanism. Dating: 1960s or '70s.   {DF}

Do not insert the plug in a modern socket with shutters that are opened by the earth pin*. The plug will be trapped by the shutter extension that pushes aside the L and N contact shutters. You have to dismantle the socket completely to free the earth pin.
* see for example image No. 2 on the first BS 546 page.
9 Bakelite BS 546 15A socket made in England by General Electric Company (GEC). The porcelain socket basal part has a protective enamel coating ('vitreous china'). The position of line and neutral contacts is secured by brass straps (green arrow). When inserting a plug, the larger earth contact makes contact first.   {PC}

Socket has the 'magnet-type' GEC logo (right, top). It has also a Kitemark, issued by the British Standard Institution, the certifying agency. The image right-bottom shows two Kitemarks. Left image: mark found on the 15A socket. Image right shows a newer version. It is unknown when the mark has been restyled.
 GEC logo and Kitemarks

BS546 5A 2-way multi-plug BS 546 5A multiplug
BS546 5A converter-multi-plug

BS 546 15A multi-plug with 5A and 15A outlets
BS 546 15A multi-plug with 5A and 15A outlets
BS 546 15A multi-plug with 5A and 15A outlets

10 Top: 5A BS 546, 2-way multi-plug. Bottom: inside of the same plug showing the copper strips and connectors. This is an example of a multi-plug in which both outlets have the same, correct orientation of line and neutral slots. Be aware that occasionally you may find more simple devices whereby the two outlets are mirror images of each other and only one of both has the correct L-N orientation. See for example image no. 5 at the page on French plugs and sockets.   {DF}
11 BS 546 5A 3-way multi-plug. Although a bit more complicated than no. 9, also this model has a correct polarization for each of the tree outlets. Brand name: Loblite (made in England).   {JM}
12 5A BS 546, 2-way multi-plug, with two 5A BS 546 outlets, one 5A  2-pin (BS 373 Part 1) outlet and an outlet for a US-type flat blade plug. Manufacturer: unknown compay that had a logo with flag and characters T and K.   {JM}
13 - 15 15A BS 546 multi-plug with various types of outlets. Right (image no. 13): 15A BS 546. Left (no. 14): 5A BS 546 with or without earth, 5A BS 372 Part 1 (2-pin) and US-type flat blade. Top (no.15): 15A BS 546 with earth and 5A BS546 without earth.
Manufacturer: company that used a logo with initials F.H. (details unknown).   {MSt}

Multi-plug nos. 9, 10/11 and 13/15 are made of Bakelite. None of the plugs is fused

General Electric Company BS 546 5A plug
Simplex BS 546 5A socket, front
Simplex BS 546 5A socket, back
GEC 5A BS546 plug with slotted earth pin

BS1778-1951 connector BS1778-1951 connector, detail BS1778-1951 Strand Electric connector

16 Bakelite 5A plug made by General Electric Company, according to British Standard Gauge (B.S.G.), which is identical to BS 546. Power pins have colour marks for line (red) and neutral (black). From 2006 wiring colours according to international standard IEC 60446* have to be used in the UK. The shown plug dates probably back to the 1950s**.    {DF}
*  brown (line), blue (neutral) and green/yellow striped (earth).
** in the 1950s GEC mostly used a logo shown on image nos. 1 and 22. It has replaced the older magnet-type logo. However, it is very well possible that in the 1950s products still have been made using old Bakelite moulds.
17 - 18
5A BS 546 socket with a black painted brass plate and steatite body. The name SIMPLEX, BAS192  and BRITISH MAKE are indicated on the body. Simplex could be linked to the Simplex Electric Co Ltd of Birmingham. They have made among others switch and fuse gear, but it is not clear whether they also have made sockets (source). Dating: probably 1950s.   {DF}
19 Flat top pattern standard gauge* 3-pin plug with slotted earth pin for G.E.C. horizontal pattern interlocking switch-socket outlet. Description is given in a 1951 General Electric Company handbook. The plug can be secured in an interlocking socket (not in the collection) that has a bar that fit in the notch in the earth pin (green arrow).   {WN}
* BS 546 plug rating: 5A-250V
20 - 22 BS 1778:1951 die-cast trailing socket rated at 15A-250V. BS 1778:1951 describes three pin plugs, socket outlets and connectors for theatre and stage use for circuits up to 250 Volt. It is likely that the standard in particular refers to (in 1951) die-cast housings and related safety issues. BS 564 15A plugs fit in this socket.Brand name: Strand Electric.
The trailing socket was used back in the 1970's to extend stage lighting circuits over the roof of the theatre in the Broadbent Building which was once part of Middlesex Polytechnic. Read more about the history of the building in the note below.   {DF}

Broadbent Building is a part of the Electric Quarter, Ponders End, Enfield Council, North London. College buildings in this area are no longer used by Middlesex University. The Electric Quarter plans enable the conversion of the Grade II Listed Broadbent Building into affordable workspace, capturing the essence of Enfield's industrial heritage, most notably that of Joseph Swan, who lived locally on Ponders End High Street and pioneered the invention of the electric light bulb, which informs the name of the Quarter. For more information about Joseph Swan, see

Niphan cast-iron socket
Niphan cast-iron socket
Niphan cast-iron socket

Clang 5A 3-phase 4 pin socket
Walsall-gauge 15A plug and socket

22 - 25
Niphan socket, model no. 662 that possibly dates back to 1960s. A range of comparable connectors are still produced by LPA- Niphan Systems, UK.
These robust connectors are designed for "hostile environments with fire, chemical, or similar risk". For example: building, underground, offshore and military equipment,

Various models exist with 2 to 11 poles with or without earth.
The shown two pole + earth model has no indication about rating, but the inner diameter of contacts (3.7 - 4.7 mm) suggests a modest amperage and/or voltage.
26, 27 Three-phase socket made by Clang Ltd. in Cricklewood. Probably a licensed copy of the 4-pin Walsall Gauge device, originally made by Walsall Conduits Ltd in West Bromwich.
Image 27, taken from a Buck and Hickman catalog*, shows a 15A Walsall B-gauge plug and socket. A similar, smaller 5A Walsall A-gauge version existed too. Two 5A versions were offered: 3-pin single phase and 4-pin three phase. Rating is not indicated on the Clang socket, but it will be a 5A three phase model.   {DF}
  * Buck & Hickman Ltd, Tools and Supplies, Whitechapel Road, London; catalog page 925 (1953).   {LN}

Walsall A- and B-type sockets have been installed in many workshops, but its popularity is now surpassed by IEC 60309.
Lewden still sells Walsall gauge metal clad weathertight IP 66 plugs rated at 10A (former 5A) 230V 3-pin, and 400V 4- or 5-pin.

Lewden BS 546 15A socket and plug for outdoor use
Lewden BS 546 15A socket for outdoor use
Lewden BS 546 15A plug for outdoor use
Lewden BS 546 15A socket detail and logo

28 - 31 15A BS 546 weathertight (IP66) metal clad socket and plug, made by Lewden Electrical Industries. Image 31 shows that the rim of socket contacts have a small part that is slightly curved inwards. It helps to press a plug pin firmly to the contact tube.
Socket and plug have labels with the notice: NOT FOR DOMESTIC USE
Lewden is still producing similar zinc die-cast BS 546 15A-230V IP66 sockets and plugs. The model shown here has been produced in the 1950s - '70s.   {DF}


navigation icon
D i g i t a l   M u s e u m   o f
navigation icon
P l u g s   a n d   S o c k e t s