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Thursday, 6 August 2009

Gregory's Shop in Norton Folgate

The Golden Lane Brewery’s gas making plant was purpose built as factory equipment and in no sense a demonstration - however others were keen to show off the new technology and to gain publicity at the same time. Norton Folgate was, in due course, to be one of the earliest local authority areas to contract with the a gas company, the Chartered Gas Light and Coke Company, for gas lighting in their streets - but before that a local shop keeper seems to have set up a gas making display of his own.

Nothing is known about Mr. Gregory’s shop window beyond a single comment by William Matthews. It might be conjectured that there is a connection with Mr.Desanges, mentioned above, whose premises was very near to Norton Folgate.

Gregory himself joined the Gas Light and Coke Company Board in the early 1820s. He had a shop in Norton Folgate, the small ‘Liberty’ just north of the City Boundary and an extension of Bishopsgate Street. As Norton Folgate was the first local authority to buy gas lighting from the Gas Light and Coke Company perhaps Mr. Gregory was a local enthusiast able to advertise the wonders of gas lighting for himself, and at the same time persuade local vestryman of the desirability of using it for street lighting.

While the nature of Mr. Gregory’s shop is not known it might be noted that a later Gregory family were potato merchants in the area - Norton Folgate backs onto Spitalfields Fruit and Vegetable Market. It might also be noted that Thomas Livesey, the Gas Light & Coke Company’s Deputy Governor, had a brother who had married into the Spitalfields potato trade. Family history research on the Liveseys reveals that Thomas’s brother James (grand father of the more famous George) had a greengrocer’s shop in Bethnal Green Road - and married a Miss Hewes, from a Lincolnshire potato growing family.

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