The Gas Light and Coke Company

The Gas Light and Coke Company

The Gas Light and Coke Company was founded at Horseferry Road in Westminster, London in 1812. It was the first gas company set up to supply London with (coal) gas, and operated the first gas works in the UK which was also the world’s first public gas works.

Offices were established at Pall Mall, with a wharf at Cannon Row. In 1818 the company established a tar works in Poplar and expanded its works at Brick Lane and Westminster. Under the guidance of the company’s chief engineer, Samuel Clegg, a gas works was installed at the Royal Mint in 1817, and by 1819 nearly 290 miles of pipes had been laid in London, supplying 51,000 burners.

Clegg also developed a practical gas meter. The vast Beckton works were built on East Ham Levels to the east of London in 1868, named after the company chairman Simon Adams Beck.The company had an especially large and diverse transport fleet including shipping, barges and railway engines for the import and export of coal, and road transport for local delivery and maintenance.

The Gas Light and Coke Company was so large that after the nationalisation of the gas industry in 1949 the area it covered, which stretched from Pinner in North West London to Southend in Essex, became North Thames Gas, one of the twelve regional gas boards.