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Wednesday, 12 August 2009

original intentions

The intentions of the early gas industry towards coke can be seen from the names given to the early gas companies. The proper name of the first gas company was the "Gas Light and Coke Company'. The first directory listing of another of the original gas companies was 'Morrow, Evans and Co. Gas and Coke Merchants'. In both cases there is equal emphasis on the words 'gas' and 'coke'. Their intention was to be known to be sellers of it.

The legal name of most gas companies included 'and Coke' and this continued to be the case with companies formed as late as the 1850s.

In east London the 'Gas Light and Coke Companies' were:

The City of London Gas Light and Coke Co. (1816)
The Imperial Gas Light and Coke Co (1821)
The South London Gas Light and Coke Co. (1821)
The Ratcliffe Gas Light and Coke Co (1823)
The Phoenix Gas Light and Coke Co. (1824)
The Independent Gas Light and Coke (1829)
The South Metropolitan Gas Light and Coke Co (1842)
The Commercial Gas Light and Coke Co. (1847)
The Deptford Gas Light and Coke Co. (1852)
The Surrey Consumers Gas Light and Coke Co. (1854)

Those companies that described themselves merely as ‘Gas Light’ were:

The Poplar Gas Light Co. (1821)
The Woolwich Gas Light Co (1823)
The British Gas Light Co (1829)
The Equitable Gas Light Co. (1842)
The London Gas Light Co. (1844)

And, finally, some oddities:

The Great Central Consumers' Gas Company (1851)
Woolwich, Plumstead and Charlton Consumers Gas Company (1854)
Woolwich Equitable Gas Company (1854)
Victoria Docks Gas Company (1857)

Do these variations of company name show anything about the nature of the London gas industry? The 'Gas Light and Coke' companies are mostly the earlier and larger companies while the 'Gas Light’ companies are later, smaller and include some oddities, like the British which had a nation‑wide remit. They also include the Poplar Company, one of the earliest of the "Barlow" works.10 The plain 'gas' companies include two consumer companies, but not the Rotherhithe based Surrey Consumers Company. The 'gas' companies are later in the century.

Gas Companies may have chosen their names for a number of reasons ‑ some for reasons only known to them. Whatever they called themselves all the gas companies had coke to dispose of and they all did this in the same way.

For the earliest companies the name 'gas light and coke' seems to serve as an advertisement of their intention to sell coke on the same basis as they sold gas. Thus the two terms are expressed equally in the company title. The gradual change to plain ‘gas’ reflects a diminution of the need to advertise coke for sale through the company name.

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