Picture Past: February 2, 1968 – curtain closes on Weston gasworks after 127 years
PUBLISHED: 18:00 05 February 2018
The curtain was closing on Weston’s gasworks after 127 years, the Weston Mercury reported in its February 2 edition in 1968. Here is the news from that week.
• The production of gas in Weston was going to end after 127 years.
South Western Gas Board was winding down its Drove Road site, which would only be used for distribution. The supergrid in Avonmouth was already supplying some homes in Weston.
When the gasworks were installed in 1841, Weston had a population of just over 2,100 people. It served 30 homes and 40 public lamps.
It moved from Oxford Street to Drove Road in 1856. The company took care of its employees, offering a four-acre recreation ground and facilities for football, cricket and tennis. By 1937, the gasworks served 16,000 homes and businesses and 1,400 public lamps.
It became the biggest private concern in the town, until it was nationalised in 1949.
• The proposal for mechanised entertainment to be introduced at the Rozel Theatre was thrown out by Weston Borough Council as the plans proved too controversial.
A continental café with umbrellas and light music would be put there instead, although it was forecast to make a loss.
• The council would press ahead with plans for a 500-car multi-storey car park in Sailsbury Terrace.
• Work on the M5 extension from Avonmouth to Edithmead would start in the spring. It was expected to open in 1971.
• The old drug store in Axbridge was to receive money from the Ministry of Housing and Local Government to pay a third of its much-needed repairs.
The building was thought to have been built in 1482, but needed considerable repairs and its owners needed to deal with a beetle infestation.
• The development of Weston Museum and Art Gallery had always been hampered by financial restraints, the Mercury said. But new Government policies would place further obstacles in its way and could put the service in jeopardy.
It was a popular attraction, receiving 23,595 visitors in 1967.
• The tale of 25 Marconi electronics apprentices who visited RAF Locking and were surprised to find the refreshments laid on for them had already been eaten made the front page.
It transpired some ‘smartly-dressed lads’ had arrived, and the WRAF waitresses provided the tea and biscuits to them.
It was discovered the first group were opportunistic apprentices from the camp.
MORE: Last week’s Picture Past.