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Thursday, 6 August 2009

Accum's home

A small experimental and demonstration works set up by a scientist involved in research and acting as a consultant on the subject of gas lighting.

Frederick Christian Accum was an important figure in the early days of the gas industry and seen by many as the acknowledged expert on gas lighting. Jewish, he had come to England from Germany where he had been apprenticed in the Brande family’s pharmacy in Hanover

William Brande was to become a prominent chemist in England with a central role in the early London gas industry.

In England Accum initially worked for Brande and set up as a consultant chemist at 3 Clarks Place, Islington. In 1811 he moved to 11 Old Compton Street, Soho. He worked with Davy at the Royal Institution and became Professor of Chemistry at the Surrey Institute - a lecture venue near Blackfriars where a number of demonstrations on gas lighting were held. He seems to have made a living selling chemical apparatus from his home in Soho. Here he was in partnership with an Alexander Garden.

Accum set up a demonstration gas lighting apparatus in Soho and demonstrated this to the Gas Light and Coke Company’s Committee for Chemistry in 1812. He was then asked by the company to design their first works, at Curtain Road, in Norton Folgate. Before it began production he fell out with the Company and severed links with them.

Accum wrote the two earliest textbooks on gas lighting as well as a whole range of other works. He made himself unpopular in many circles in the early 1820s by writing works which attacked the adulteration of food stuffs. An action was brought against him for damaging books in the Royal Institution Library and he was forced to return to Germany where he enjoyed an official position and successful career.

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