Vauxhall Gas Works

From London's Ghost Acres

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"Following an Act of Parliament in 1805, the South London Waterworks Company was incorporated to provide water to residents south of the River Thames who were not being supplied by either the Lambeth Waterworks Company or the Southwark Water Company. The new company drew tidal water from the River Effra (which flowed into the River Thames) into two reservoirs on about five acres of land situated in the common area next to Kennington Oval. By 1827, pumps were installed in an auxiliary works closer to the River Thames, adjacent to the Vauxhall Bridge, insuring that the two reservoirs remained full year-round.

Pollution Problems

Yet over the years the River Effra became increasingly polluted, leading to complaints by the local residents to their governmental representative. In 1831, the House of Lords passed a bill stating that the company should take their water supply only from the River Thames, forcing the company to relinquish the River Effra source. Three more years passed until the next major event. In 1834 the South London Waterworks was renamed the Vauxhall Water Company to avoid confusion with the two other water companies serving southern London. At the same time, the company acquired some of the water distribution area that was formerly served by the Lambeth Waterworks Company. As a result some areas south of the River Thames were supplied by both the Vauxhall Water Company and the Lambeth Waterworks Company. Later this intertwining distribution of water would be used by Dr. John Snow in conducting the grand experiment of 1854.

Renamed and Sold

In 1845, the Vauxhall Water Company was merged with the Southwark Water Company to become the Southwark and Vauxhall Water Company. Immediately thereafter, the new company bought additional land at Battersea, also adjacent to the River Thames. On the land they constructed large filter beds and a settling reservoir, and built a new engine and boiler house to pump water from the River Thames. By 1947, the reservoirs by the Kennington Oval and the auxiliary works by the Vauxhall Bridge were no longer needed, and the property of the original South London Waterworks Company, including land, buildings and machinery, was sold to the Phoenix Gas Company. "

"The Vauxhall works were purchased from the Southwark and Vauxhall Water Company in 1847 and were situated between Vauxhall Bridge and the River Effra. These works were extended west of the river in 1864. " (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.




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Located in



Gas, Tar, Coke, Ammonia, Sulphur

Used Raw Materials



From To Owner
1805 1834 South London Waterworks Company
1834 1845 Vauxhall Water Company
1845 1847 Southwark and Vauxhall Water Company
1847 1880 Phoenix Gas Company
1880 The date "{{{to_date}}}" was not understood.The date "{{{to_date}}}" was not understood. South Metropolitan Gas Company


From To Industry
1805 1847 Waterworks Industry
1847 The date "{{{to_date}}}" was not understood.The date "{{{to_date}}}" was not understood. Coal Gas Industry