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Wednesday, 5 August 2009

The Deptford, Bermondsey and Rotherhithe Gas Light and Coke Co.

This represents Company was formed to take over the London & Greenwich Railway Gas Works Co.

The proprietors of the proposed company were:

Charles Barlee: Deptford coke merchant. Barlee was also a churchwarden at St.Nicholas Deptford and his name is inscribed on bells of 1842.

John Barlow: See Poplar Gas Company

Webster Flockton: Spa Road, Bermondsey, tar distiller. The Flockton’s were a coal owning family in 1871 a Webster Flockton is listed as Manager of the Llantwit Red Ash Coal Co. in South Wales

John Twells: First Deputy Chair of the Greenwich Railway. He set up the Greenwich Railway Gas Works. Related to Philip Twells (City of London MP). Birmingham engineering family. Worked with Richard Foster, who was the majority shareholder in South Met. Gas Co., to build churches.

John Wells: A shipbuilder with a number of partnerships, mainly in Deptford and with Wigram and Green at what became Thames Ironworks. Wells built Bickley Hall in 1780 and later Redleaf, which became Frank Hills' home. Liberal MP.

John Bateston, Unidentified.

They took over and ran the old Greenwich Railway Gas Works on Deptford Creek between the Greenwich Railway and Frank Hills chemical works. Today the Greenwich Railway carries heavy commuter traffic, the Chemical Works is a trading estate, and the creek remains. The site, which can be seen from the railway, is now the site of a small Ecology Centre and Project.

From 1838 on the Deptford Rotherhithe and Bermondsey Gas Company supplied gas to the people of the area in competition with the other local gas companies. Not too successfully however since in 1840 Phoenix secured the contract to light the parish of St. Paul's, Deptford – an area that the new company could well hope to have secured. The reaction of both the older gas companies to the newcomer was to lower their prices and eventually in 1841 a limited agreement on competition was made between them.

By the early 1850s there was yet another gas company in South London – the Surrey Consumers based in Rotherhithe which posed yet more competition. They made several attempts to buy up this now ailing Deptford works but by that time the Deptford Gas Works had a neighbour in the shape of Frank Clarke Hills. He had a chemical works on Deptford Creek, next door to the gas works and he seems to have used them for his own purposes.

It eventually transpired that the Deptford Works had been underwritten by Frank Hills to the tune of £10,000 loaned to them in order to extend the works. He had then used the works as a testing ground for his various gas purification schemes. The gas works claimed that there was a footpath through the site over which he had rights. This version of Frank Hills' rights was contested by some of the ex-directors of the Deptford, Bermondsey and Rotherhithe Gas Co.

The Deptford Works was eventually sold to the Surrey Consumers Co. In due course that was taken over by South Met. and the works was closed down in 1856, but probably continued to be used as a holder station only. It appears on the Ordnance Survey for the 1860s with three holders, the little dock and some buildings. By 1914 only the largest holder in the centre of the site remained but the site stood vacant behind a very substantial wall for many years.

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