Great Central Gas Consumers Company

From London's Ghost Acres

“The Great Central Gas Consumers' Company was formed by Deed of Settlement in 1849 and was backed by the Commissioners of Sewers of the City of London following petitions against high gas prices. It was proposed that the company would build a works to provide gas at 4 shillings at a time when the other companies charged 7. The works were built, in 1850, next to Tower Hamlets cemetery, on Bow Common lane, Bow Common at a cost of £106,000. A noticeable feature was the process, devised by Croll, of employing waste heat from one set of retorts to fire another. In 1851 the company gained statutory powers via the The Great Central Gas Consumers Act 1851. Although successful in reducing the price of gas, the Great Central suffered because of it, Bow Common fell into disrepair and an act of embezzlement by an employee finally compelled the company to sell to the Gas Light & Coke Company in 1870. The works were almost entirely rebuilt in 1926. In 1954 the works were used in a large-scale trial of accelerated carbonisation, and were still in operation three years later” (The National Archives).

Gas works were used to produce and store flammable coal gas. Coal was mined in Britain and then shipped on a barge up rivers or on trains to the gas works. There it was burned to create the gas, which was then purified and put into the gas holders until needed for consumer use to light streets and buildings. The process also created coke, tar, ammonia, and sulphur as by-products.

51.52086, -0.02497 and 51.52078, -0.02504 Bow Common Gas Works


1849 to 1870

Located in