Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: October 11, 2019
Webpage updated: October 11, 2019




The Gaslight and Coke Company received the Royal Charter on April 30th 1812 and the first provincial town to have gas installed was Preston in Lancashire in 1817.  In that same year the residents of Plymouth held a public meeting to discuss the formation of a company to light the Town with gas.  It was concluded that it would be advisable to substitute gas for the existing oil lighting and a committee was formed.

An oil gas works was established in Exeter Street under an Act passed in the 4th year of the reign of King George IV, which received its Royal Assent on March 24th 1823.  This seems to have been operated by the Plymouth Oil Gas Company, of which Mr John Tingcombe and Mr John Johnson the Younger seem to have been the partners.   They are named in the draft contract drawn up in 1822 by the Commissioners for Paving, Lighting and Watching.

In 1826 the Commissioners entered into a contract for the lighting of public lamps at Plymouth with coal gas and oil for seven years from September 16th.  There were 175 coal gas lamps and 284 oil lamps in the Town and they were to be lit every night from September 16th through to April 16th 1827.   The other parties to the contract were Messrs William Bell, merchant, of Aldersgate Street in the City of London; William Fraction, wholesale grocer, of Leadenhall Street, London; Isaac Nichoson the Younger, merchant, of King's Arms Yard, London; George Richardson Porter, merchant, of Old Broad Street, London; and William Henry Porter, of Streatham, Surrey.  They constructed a coal gas works at Millbay, from which they are said to have supplied the Three Towns.

These gentlemen formed themselves into the United General Gas Company and were granted a Royal Charter on March 2nd 1831.  In their new guise they negotiated a new contract from September 1st 1833 and another when, when that expired, to run for seven years from September 1st 1840.    They charged the Commissioners 3 per lamp per annum, with 3 3s for any new lamps added to the system, rising to 4 10s per lamp if a new mains had to be laid.

These high charges and the monopoly held by the Company induced the inhabitants of Plymouth and Stonehouse to form their own company with a view to providing a cheaper supply.

On Wednesday July 31st 1844 a preliminary meeting was held at the premises of Messrs Whiteford and Bennett to discuss the formation of a Company to provide gas to the Town.  The chairman was Mr Thomas Gill, MP.  25,000 was to be raised in 10 shares.  It would require an Act of Parliament.

The Plymouth and Stonehouse Gas Light and Coke Company was established in 1844, with 25,000 raised in 10 shares, and confirmed by Act of Parliament the following year. 

In 1848 the United General Gas Company were compelled to sell their Millbay works to the new Plymouth Company for 25,410.