St James's

Utilities

Dover Gas Works


 

Gas making was Dover's oldest public industry, starting in Trevanion Street in 1823 and continuing later in Union Road.  With the discovery of natural gas in the North Sea, the production of gas from coal ceased, and the gas works were demolished to make way for other industries.


 

THE FIRST DOVER GAS ACT

"The Act of Parliament for lighting the town and port of Dover, and places adjacent, with gas was passed in the year 1822.  The quaintly worded preamble of the statute stated that it would be a great advantage if the streets of Dover were better lighted; that 'inflammable air, coke, oil, tar, pitch, asphaltum, ammoniacal liquor, and essential oil' could be produced from coal; and that 'the inflammable air' might be conveyed by tubes and safely used for the lighting of public streets, buildings, workshops, and private houses.(J.B.J. 1907)





GAS PIONEERS

The Act gave powers to light Dover with "inflammable air" to the Dover Gas Company, consisting of a number of prominent Dover residents:

The Rev. Matthew Armstrong
Jane Biggs
Elizabeth Boyton
James Boyton
Richard Boom
Thomas Coleman
The Rev. C. Dayman
Mary Ewer
Michael Elwin
Philpott Elsted
John Finnis
A. R. Gale
John Hamilton
William Horsnail
Thomas Knocker
John De Lacy
Henshaw Latham

Sir Thomas Mantell
Isaac Minet
The Rev. Thomas Morris
Daniel Nazer
Henry H. Price
Thomas Paine
Thomas Russell
Edward Rutley
Thomas Squier
John Shipdem
Nicholas Ladd Steriker
Benjamin G. Simpson
Lewis Stride
Benedicta Stokes
Edward Thompson
Henry Norris Watson

 

THE CAPITAL AND THE LIGHT

"The company was authorised to raise 9000 in 50 shares and the powers of the company to purchase land and buildings to set up gas works was not to be exercised until the whole of the 9000 was subscribed, and f that amount was not sufficient, the company was empowered to raise 2000 more.  The company commenced operations with a capital of 10,000.  The Act also stipulated that the company should supply gas of such quality that it would be a better and a cheaper light than could be obtained from oil, according to the average cost of the previous three years.(J.B.J. 1907)

 

THE FIRST GAS WORKS

"The first gas works were erected at the seaward end of Trevanion Street, and were sufficiently advanced for the central part of Dover to be lighted with gas in the year 1823.  During the first 27 years of the company's operations the average dividend paid was 4 10s. per cent., and at the end of that period the price of gas was 7/6 per 1000 feet.  Earlier, the price had been 12/- per 1000, and even higher.(J.B.J. 1907)


In 1843, public discontent with the high price of gas led to the formation of a rival company, the Consumers' Gas Company but, after the original company reduced their prices they remained quiescent until 1860, when the original company applied to Parliament for further powers, which where considered prejudicial to the public interest.  This led the Consumers' Gas Company to apply to the Corporation for permission to lay pipes and mains in the street to connect to a gas works they proposed to build in Buckland Bottom (Coombe Valley Road).  When the Corporation refused the company was wound up, returning 1/9 in the pound on the 753 shares, which had originally been sold for 1 per share.

In 1848, the Dover Gas Company appointed Mr. Kirkham, an up-to-date gas engineer, as Superintendent and, in 1855, opened new administrative premises in Fector's Place.

In 1864, they erected a new works in Union Road, where the Consumers' Gas Company had wanted their works.  Originally leased to Messrs. Anderson and Jones, who developed and enlarged the facility, control of the new works was taken over by the Dover Gas Company, under the chairmanship of Mr. R. W. Mowll, in 1873.  The new works being capable of supplying the needs of the town, the old works in Trevanion Street were closed.