In pictures: The end of the gasworks – 50 years since the final coal delivery in Weston
PUBLISHED: 17:00 05 March 2018
The final coal delivery was made to Weston-super-Mare’s gasworks 50 years ago this month, marking the end of gas-making in the town.
The gasworks were installed for £2,500 in Oxford Street in 1841, when Weston had a population of jus 2,100 people. It was run by the Weston Gaslight Company, and served 30 homes and 40 public lamps.
It was incorporated under the Weston-super-Mare Gaslight Act, which also allowed the works to move to Drove Road in 1856.
The new works were designed by EA Cowper, a civil engineer from London, and cost £3,000 to build.
The firm rapidly expanded, and in 1861 it applied to Parliament for the power to include Uphill and Kewstoke in the area it was allowed to supply.
Permission was granted in 1878, and further Acts of Parliament in 1901 and 1911 allowed additional land to be bought.
The company continued to expand, merging with the Burnham and Highbridge network in 1931, and then Banwell, Winscombe and Cheddar.
The Weston Gaslight Company then changed its name to Weston and District Gas Company.
Bosses were determined to look after its employees’ well-being and installed a four-acre recreation ground next to the works. There, they could play football, cricket and tennis, while there were indoor facilities with a canteen.
By 1937, the company served 16,000 buildings and nearly 1,400 public lamps. There were more than 1,300 gas cookers in use, along with 14,000 heating appliances and 5,500 water heating appliances.
It was the biggest private concern in Weston, until it was nationalised in 1949.
In 1968, it was announced the production of gas in Weston was going to end, and the supergrid in Avonmouth started supplying homes in the town.
The final coal delivery to be used for producing gas was made at the end of February 1968, though the gasholders remained to store gas.
The impact of the works was still felt in recent years. The ground on a corner of Dolphin Square was contaminated, leftover from when the works were still in Oxford Street.
In 2014, the gasworks were dismantled, and the decontamination of the land has taken place. There is no proposal for what may be built there next.