Coal Gas Industry

From London's Ghost Acres

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Coal Gas, Coke, Coal Tars, Ammonia, Sulphur, road tar phenol, cresols, xylenols, naphthalene, pyridine bases, creosote, benzene, toluene, xylene, solvent naphtha, ammonium sulphate solution, ammonia solution, sulphuric acid, picolines, quinoline, quinaldine, acenaphthene, anthracene, dicyclopentadiene

Raw Materials



Very large industry in London producing the gas used to light the city and increasingly for domestic consumption. Coke was another primary product, used in steel production. By-products include coal tars and ammonia, used by the chemical industry.

Coal gas was often the first form of illumination to replace oil lamps and candles across the United Kingdom. London was no exception, and the gas works in the city were some of the largest industrial sites by acreage. By combining coal with water vapor and oxygen under pressure and heat, coal gas works were able to produce a fuel that could be pumped across the city. Early on, it was most widely used for illumination via street lamps and indoor lighting. Later, household appliances such as stoves and lamps began to use coal gas. The legacy of these massive gas works continues, with many of the gas holders still standing in industrial cities across the UK. In addition, they created a legacy of environmental pollution, something that was highlighted during the construction of the Millennium Dome in Greenwich. The East Greenwich Gas Works occupied a significant portion of the peninsula for the better part of 100 years from 1886 to 1976, and left behind a significant amount of pollutants which contaminated the soil. While the land had been decontaminated to some degree during the construction of the Millennium Dome, this does not rectify the environmental damage done to the River Thames and the atmosphere above London.

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