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Thursday, 6 August 2009

97 Pall Mall

Winsor seems to have given public exhibitions at 97 Pall Mall from 1806 - although any gas making plant there must have been very small and only for demonstration purposes. The fact that Winsor was able to take these offices in an expensive part of the West End implies that he was gathering support and finance. He published an announcement in a new pamphlet for ‘A National Light and Heat Company' which noted that information could be obtained from ‘that well known scientific experimenter and lecturer, Mr. F.Hardie, Surgeon and Professor of Philosophical Chemistry.. at The Theatre of Science, 98 Pall Mall’.

Hardie was one of several lecturers on what was a very popular circuit in the early nineteenth century and held demonstrations on a number of scientific subjects in Pall Mall. Winsor’s liaison with him did not last very long however, since in some copies of Winsor’s pamphlet his name has been crossed out and the address changed to next door, number 97.

The location of these numbers in Pall Mall can easily be worked out from Horwood who helpfully provides street numbers. It was on the south side of Pall Mall with a long garden, which backed onto the gardens of Marlborough House. Winsor himself said that it had once been the Star and Garter Inn. There had been two such inns in Pall Mall and this one, on the south side, was probably the least important - it was nevertheless very well known at the time. The fact that it was so near to Carlton House, the home of the Prince Regent, raises questions about Winsor’s relationship with the crown and governing circles.

Winsor’s pamphlets also describe the extent of the premises which comprised a lecture room, a saloon with a chandelier, committee room with an atlas supporting a globe and other lights, drawing and dining rooms, a passage and stairs, a yard and entrance - all lit by gas.

The Pall Mall building became the first offices of the new gas company. Once Winsor had parted company with the new directors they bought a lease on next door, no.96. The Gas Light and Coke Co retained the building as offices until 1814. It then became clear that it was likely to be part of the area to be cleared for new buildings planned by William Nash in what became Lower Regent Street. The remainder of the lease was sold for £500 and the site now lies under London’s clubland.

Almost the last occupant of the site was Winsor’s fifteen year old son, also Frederick Albert. He had been commissioned by the new Gas Light and Coke Company to work out how the new gas company was to dispose of its waste products. With his enforced departure an era closed.

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