Abertillery Gas Works.
Abertillery Gas and Water Company.
In November 1866 the Abertillery Gas and Water Company was set up. The company was incorporated with the power to supply gas and water within the Parish of Aberystruth, Monmouthshire, to manufacture, sell and dispose of coke with residual products such as bricks, pipes and tiles. To deal in coal, lime, slates and stone etc. Also the construction of gas and waterworks, with sale or lease of undertaking.
The Abertillery Gas and Water Company gave notice of application for a bill to be put before parliament with their intent to purchase land at Abertillery. The land in question was detailed as being close to the Abertillery Tin Works and to be purchased from Mr George Grey Rous, a past High Sheriff of Glamorgan and Reverend George Gore, both gentlemen being the trustees of the will of the late Capel Hanbury Leigh. This land was to purchased to build a gas works plant to supply the town.
More land was purchased by the company close to the tin works from Mr Edmund James and Mr George Williams for access and also at Heolgerrig to build a reservoir to supply the town with water.
In August 1867 the bill was given Royal Assent. The gas works plant was to be built to supply the town with gas, initially for lighting and manufacturing purposes. The works was enlarged and extended over a short time to keep up with demand. What follows is a brief account of the planning, construction and many alterations to the service.
In 1867 the Abertillery Gas Works was constructed at Abertillery, south of the Abertillery Tin Works, a few hundred yards south of the gas works plant on Aberbeeg Road was a coal level locally known as the Gas Works Level, there isn’t a lot of information on this level though more than probably opened to mine coal used at the gas works.
The site chosen for the Abertillery Gas Works was on a flat section of ground intersected by the River Ebbw and the main road to Aberbeeg. Leading from the tin works and close to the entrance of the gas works was a bridge over the river, the bridge was named “Pont Gwaith-y-Wyrlod” roughly translated as “Bridge to Work”. At this time the main road was constructed with a “dog-leg” into the gas works and tin works (as seen on the map left) coloured brown. Later in about 1894 this dog-leg was removed when Mr James McBean the surveyor constructed a new road and straightened it for future expansion at the gas works.
The area around the site of the gas works was fairly large and a portion was used for recreation and sports, known as the Gas Works Field. Over the following years the field became a venue for the various football leagues, Abertillery Rovers, Abertillery Crusaders and the Abertillery Seconds were just a few of the teams that played there.
Gas Works House.
After the completion of the Abertillery Gas Works a Gas Works House was built to house the manager or head of maintenance. On the 1871 census this house of cottage was occupied by Mr Charles Preece and his wife Anne Marie Preece. Mr Preece was listed as a gas stoker and was born in 1843 at Hereford, his wife Anne Marie was born in 1848 at Radnor. This dwelling was not the one there today, most of the early maps shows the gas works plant was close to the Aberbeeg Road and was a compact area containing only a few buildings.
Brynmawr and Abertillery Gas and Water Company.
During the early 1870’s the gas and water company was known as the Brynmawr and Abertillery Gas and Water Company.
The Formation of the Abertillery Local Board.
In December 1876 the Abertillery Local Board was established, the new Abertillery Local Board took control of the Abertillery District from the old Aberystruth Rural Sanitary Authority that was based in Blaina. Many reports at the time seem to suggest that the Aberystruth Rural Sanitary Authority members based in Blaina had no objection to Abertillery setting up its own local board, on the contrary, it seemed that Abertillery, being such a large area was a drain on resources and the move was encouraged.
In March 1877 the first six officers of the new Abertillery Local Board were elected as follows – Mr Lewis Richards; Mr Titus Phillips; Mr J. Green; Mr P. A. Williams; Mr Basil Jayne; Mr E. Walker for the Abertillery Ward: Mr Josph Wallace; Mr J. A. Harding and Mr S. Jones for Cwmtillery Ward:
The Area under the Abertillery Local Board.
The district under the jurisdiction of the Abertillery Local Board covered the following area – From Aberbeeg up the Cwm Valley to Llandafal Village and the Waterloo Inn, up over the Arael Mountain into Roseheyworth Colliery, up to Blaentillery Farm, Cwmtillery due east to the Parish of Blaenavon, along the imaginary line dividing the Parish of Aberystruth from the Parish of Abersychan, Pontnewynydd and Llanhilleth. The district contained a population of 6,000 and was divided into two wards, the Abertillery Ward and the Cwmtillery Ward.
In January 1882 the Brynmawr and Abertillery Gas and Water Company had notice that the Abertillery Local Board intended to purchase the Gas Works at Abertillery.
Mr and Mrs Thomas Mitchell, Gas Works House.
On the 1881 census Mr Thomas Mitchell, and his wife Moriah Mitchell lived at the Gas Works House, with their children – Masters Alfred Mitchell, born 1863. Walter Mitchell, born 1867. William Mitchell, born 1873, George Mitchell, born 1889 and Miss Mary Mitchell, born 1870. Mr Thomas Mitchell was from Kilmersdon, Somerset and was a gas fitter by trade.
On Friday 7th May 1880 a meeting of the Abertillery Local Board took place, the following members attended – Mr P. A. Williams (Chairman); Mr T. Phillips; Mr S. N. Jones; Mr T. Webb; Mr J. James; Mr G. L. Hiley and Mr Shepard (Clerk): At this meeting the quality of the water and gas supplies were discussed and a take over of the works was also discussed.
The Town Lamplighters.
In March 1889 there were only 2 lamplighters employed at Abertillery to cover the whole town, it was reported that they had to light the lamps at dusk and extinguish them at dawn, as of the meagre number of lamplighters this operation was reportedly not being carried out properly.
In September 1889 the Abertillery Local Board employed lamplighters at Aberbeeg, their wages were 10s. 6d. and 11s. per week inclusive of oil and fuses. At Abertillery the surveyor was authorised to employ 3 lamplighters with a wage of 14s. each, per week. This was later increased by 3d. per day. The wage of 14s. is approximately £94.00. in today’s money.
The Takeover of the Brynmawr and Abertillery Gas and Water Co by the Local Board.
In November 1893 The Abertillery Local Board applied to parliament in the ensuing session of 1894 with their intent to purchase the undertaking of the Brynmawr and Abertillery Gas and Water Company. To relieve the company from all liabilities and obligations with the respect to the supply of gas and water in the Parish of Aberystruth and Llanhilleth in the County of Monmouthshire.
The Formation of the Abertillery Urban District Council.
In May 1894 the Abertillery Local Board became the Abertillery Urban District Council under the Local Government Act of 1894. At the change over the members of the council were as follows – *Mr Edward Jones (Chairman); Mr J. E. Webb; Mr J. Handy; Mr Joseph Wallace; Mr James Jones; Mr T. Robins; Mr J. T. Williams; Mr D. Lewis and Mr H. J. Baker:
*Mr Edward Jones was appointed chairman taking over from the late chairman Mr Lewis Reynold Rogers of Rogers Buildings, Cwm Street, Abertillery. Mr Edward Jones was chairman only until the forthcoming elections took place. Mr Lewis Reynold Rogers had sadly passed away the previous month, after falling ill while in Cwmtillery inspecting the site for the proposed reservoir. Mr Titus Phillips was appointed vice chairman. It was suggested that the district be divided into four wards, Cwmtillery Ward, Abertillery Ward, Penybont Ward and Llanhilleth Ward. Mr William Stewart (Mining Engineer and General Manager of the Powell’s Tillery Collieries) of Gelli Crug was appointed to the council.
Bad Gas Supply.
In October 1894 it was said that the quality of the gas being produced was bad, it was being made and rushed through the mains whilst still hot, it produced poor light, was very smelly and dirty and the mains were leaking. As the Abertillery Urban District Council were now in full control of the gas and water services the Abertillery they set about producing cleaner coal gas, fixing the mains and giving the ratepayers value for their money. It was stated that at this point in time the street lamps were consuming 15’feet of gas per hour instead of the normal five. The cost of gas at this time was 5s. per 1,000ft
In October 1894 Mr James McBean commenced testing for leakages in the gas mains, it was reported that he had discovered several. The whole of the joints of the leading main from the Abertillery Gas Works appeared to have been very bad. There were plans for a new gas holder to hold 80,000 ft, which at the time could be built of brick costing £2,080., or an iron framed holder at £2,500. The road behind the gas works to the tin works was to be straightened, to provide for future expansion.
At the same meeting tenders were received for the supply of gas coal for the manufacture of gas, Mr McBean was instructed to obtain samples from – Messrs James & Emmanuel; Mr Edgar Williams & Co and Messrs Lancaster and Spier to be submitted for analysis.
Tenders were also invited for the supply of gas works plant. The tenders of Messrs Bryan, Duncan & Co of London, for a pair of exhausters, engine and boiler and that of Mr S. Cutler of London for a Hunt’s washer. Mr W. B. Harrison of Abertillery was accepted for the supply of fitters tools.
November 1894 the tender of Messrs James & Emmanuel for the gas coal was accepted. Mr McBean had the samples back and it was stated their coal was the best. The terms of the sale of coal to the gas works were 8s. per ton, delivered. Messrs James & Emmanuel owned the Areal and Llandavel Levels under the Areal Mountain with their entrances along Old Blaina Road. The levels were managed by Mr Thomas Salt. Prior to the signing of contracts the coal was always tested for its gas producing qualities.
In February 1895 tenders were invited for the construction of a gas holder and tank at the Gas Works Abertillery.
Gas Charges for Manufacturing Purposes.
On Monday 4th March 1895 a monthly meeting of the council was held at the Council Offices, King Street, Abertillery, Mr Joseph Wallace (Chairman). The following members attended – Mr J. T. Baker; Mr J. E. Webb; Mr G. Gregory; Mr G. C. Dancey; Mr F. Padfield; Mr W. Evans; Mr W. Thomas; Mr J. T. Williams; Mr William Stewart; Mr D. Lewis and Mr J. A. Shepard (Clerk): At this meeting the Abertillery Gas and Water Committee were told of an application by Messrs Phillips of the proprietor of the Abertillery Tin Works for a reduction in his gas charges for manufacturing purposes. His company was a large consumer of gas in Abertillery and was being charged 3s. 6d. per 1,000ft.
Mr Arthur Tilney agreed and stated the Abercarn Gas Company were only charging the South Celynen Colliery 2s. 6d. per 1,000 so why was Mr Phillips being charged more by the Abertillery Council?. The committee was asked to write up a scale of charges. The tender of Messrs Walker & Co was accepted for the gas holder at a cost of £698. 2s. 0d. It was also debated as to whether the labourers working at the gas works should be insured, it was argued that they were working for contractors and that they were responsible, though the cost of insurance was 5s. or 6s. and that they should be insured, though the council were not bound to do so.
In April 1895 tenders were invited for the erection of two bridges, a retort bench and the building of river walling at the Gas Works, Abertillery. During the construction of the new gas holder the council sold off their old plant. The old gas tank was for sale and was described as being 30′ feet x 10′ feet in size, sold with a scrubber 10′ feet x 3′ feet, a station meter with a capacity of 1,200 feet per hour and a number of 6″ inch gas valves.
In June 1895 the Messrs Stone & Co supplied a pump for the gas works at a cost of £5. The tender of Mr Robert Coles for the dismantling and re-erecting the stack for the cost of £12. 5s., and the tender of Mr A Dawnary of Cardiff was accepted for supplying steel joists at the gas works at a cost of £5. 17s. per ton.
The Post of the New Gas Manager.
The council advertised the post of a water and gas manager, under supervision and with a wage of £2 per week with a house, gas and coal and also the post of a rates collector.
With regards to the gas manager there were 56 applications, the council held back their decision saying they could do the job without employing someone, the appointments were deferred and Mr Joseph Wallace wanted the offices to get more involved and to fill the posts themselves. Mr James McBean became the gas manager at this time and running the gas works from the council offices.
In September 1895 tenders were invited for the supply of 1,500 tons of gas coal for use at the gas works.
Mr and Mrs William Henry Morse, Gas Works House.
On The 1901 census Mr William Henry Morse, and his wife Sarah Morse lived at the Abertillery Gas Works House, with their children – Masters Henry William Morse, born 1889. Frederick George Morse, born 1892. Clifford Morse, born 1894 with Misses Mary Violet Morse, born 1899 and Catherine Morse, born 1900. Mr William Henry Morse was from Taunton, Somerset and was a council gas fitter by trade.
Gas Works Statistics 1901.
On Monday 4th February 1901, Lieut Col A. C. Smith R.E. of the Local Government Board held a public enquiry at the Council Offices, Abertillery into the application made by the Abertillery District Council for approval to borrow the sum of £2,350. for gas works renovations and £1,919. for street appliances improvements. Those members present were as follows – Mr W. P. Thomas; Mr William Stewart; Mr C. W. Carpenter; Mr T. J. Buckley; Mr A. P. Williams; Mr Arthur Tilney; Mr J. A. Shepard (Clerk); Mr James McBean (Surveyor) and Mr F. Padfield (Inspector):
The council reported on the following statistics in connection with the gas supply – When the council took control of the gas works in 1894 there were 145 ordinary gas meters and 4 slot meters installed at premises in Abertillery. In 1901 there were 230 ordinary meters and 314 slot meters installed. In 1894 there were 186 street lamps in use at Abertillery. In 1901 there were 329 street lamps in use. The gas consumption had risen from 14 million feet to 18 million feet. The 14 million feet was high owing to the leakages. The council also proposed to enlarge the mains and to extend the supply to Six Bells.
In 1901 Mr E. Perman opened a plumbing shop at N05 Tillery Street, Abertillery (as seen in the advertisement right) and over the coming years more gas fitters and plumbers appeared as follows – Mr H. G. Wheeler of No2 Cross Street, Mr Gilbert Wheeler at Gladstone Street and Mr W. M. Lewis of Gladstone Street, Abertillery are a few that opened gas and plumbing shops in the area. In 1901 the council approved the tender of Mr Thomas Salt for gas coal from his coal levels. The council later approved the mortgage with the Cardiff Corporation for borrowing the amount of £2,529. for the Gas renovations and £1,456. for the street appliances.
In the same year the tender of Haynes & Corbett was accepted for the supply of bricks and retorts for the gas works and that of Mr Harrison for a 600 gallon cistern.
In December 1902 it was proposed to install a telescopic lift on the large gas holder at the gas works to keep up with demand.
Local Government Board Enquiry.
On Thursday 19th March 1903 a Local Government Board Inquiry was held at the Council Offices, Abertillery by Mr J. C. Pottinger M.Inst. C.E. in connection with an application of the Urban District Council for sanction to borrow £3,250. for the purpose of further gas undertaking under the Abertillery Gas and Water Act 1894. The members present were as follows – Mr W. Gait (Assistant Clerk); Mr Mr James McBean (Surveyor) and Mr L. Lewis (Assistant Serveyor); Mr E. J. Williams (Vice Chairman) and Mr Arthur Tilney: At this meeting it was announced that the total money borrowed for the gas undertaking to date was £21,675. of which £19,216. was outstanding. Since the loan applied for in 1901 the consumption of gas had increased by 40 per cent.
The inquiry was told that the capacity of the large gas holder was 75,000 cubic feet with the small holder 25,000 cubic feet. The Abertillery Gas Works were able to produce 160,000 cubic feet per day with the coal they had, it was stated they could produce 200,000 cubic feet of gas with better quality coal. The proposed extra lift to the large gas holder would double its capacity though the cost of that extra lift was estimated at being £565. with an extra £125. for a purifier and £144. for a scrubber. The council had at this time over 500 slot meters. Mr McBean stated the council were charging 3s. per 1,000 feet of gas for cookers and engines.
Gas Cooker Scheme.
In 1903 the council purchased cookers and meters and were renting them out to consumers. They rented out 11 cookers with 14 cookers privately owned. From the 25 users of gas cookers the revenue amounted to £33. 8s. per quarter, on average 27s. 1d. per cooker. The price of a cooker was between £5 and £6.
In January 1905 the council stated they were to begin supplying gas cookers rent free, with a prepayment meter, yet for those terms the quantity of gas issued for 1d. was to be decreased. The following June the Abertillery Urban District Council Gas Department organised a series of exhibitions on “Gas Cooking” (as seen in the advertisement left) the exhibitions were held in the Market Hall, Abertillery
In October 1905 it was reported that regenerative furnaces were installed at the gas works, Abertillery. These furnaces enabled to plant to produce more gas.
New Gas Works House Proposal.
In October 1906 the council made an inspection of the gas works and the surveyor was instructed to prepare a sketch of a caretakers cottage to be erected on a site near the bridge leading to the gas works. It is after this time the Gas Works House as we know it today first appeared.
In 1901 the council approved the tender of Mr Thomas Salt for gas coal from his levels. The coal contracts for the gas works were normally over a twelve month period, after which the process of inviting tenders were renewed. The colliery companies who usually tendered for the contracts were the Powell’s Tillery Co, Partridge, Jones & Co, Messrs James & Emmanuel and Mr T. F. Salt. As well as buying coal, the council also sold by-products from the burning of the coal, the tar produced from the heating of the coal was sold to other companies whoever required it.
In January 1908 Messrs J. J. Braddock of Oldham supplied gas meters after the council had approved their tender. They were asked to supply the meters after May 1908.
In November 1908 the Council Gas and Water Manager and surveyor Mr James McBean resigned his post as gas manager. In his resignation letter he stated he was suffering from ill health owing to his increasingly burdening workload, he had been the gas manager for the past 14 years, he was council surveyor and in charge of the Water Works at Cwmtillery and overseeing work at the New Cemetery at Brynithel.
On Monday 7th December 1908 the Abertillery District Council held a special meeting to appoint a new gas manager. They had received 73 applications for the post and the council had made a short list to appear before them at this meeting. The four candidates were – Mr W. S. Sowerbutts of Stockport; Mr Charles Loveridge of Wallasey; Mr L. J. Langford of Longton and Mr Hedley Hoy of Lancaster: Mr Leonard J. Langford at 27 years of age was chosen as the new Gas Manager.
Mr Leonard J. Langford.
Mr Leonard J. Langford became the Abertillery Gas Works manager. Mr Langford had been assistant engineer and manager to the Longton Corporation Gas & Electrical Works.
The Death of Mr James McBean.
On Saturday 10th April 1909 Mr James McBean the council surveyor and gas manager at Abertillery sadly passed away.
The following is a Link to – Mr James McBean.
On Friday 4th November 1910 the the Local Government Board inquiry was held at the Council Chambers Abertillery with reference to the councils application to the board for sanction to borrow £10,486 for more extensions in connection with the Abertillery Gas Works. The inquiry was conducted by Major J. Stewart R.E. also present were Mr W. Gait (Clerk); Mr L. Langford (Gas Works Manager); Mr L. Lewis (Surveyor); Also the following members of the council – Mr T. H. Prichard (Chairman); Mr W. Harris and Mr J. Boots:
At this time it was reported that the present capacity was 320,000 cubic feet. There were 70 retorts and 10 beds and 4 purifiers. The new exhauster was capable to deal with 720,000 cubic feet and they projected the works could have a capacity of over 1 million in the next 10 to 15 years. The amount of gas used for street lighting in the previous year 1909 was 7,000,000 cubic feet. The council proposed to add an extra 3 acres of land to add to the gas works plant.
In 1911 the collectors wages were 25s. per week.
In August 1915 Mr Leonard J. Langford the gas engineer and manager at the Abertillery Gas Works left the area to become the chief engineer and manager at the County Borough of Stoke-on-Trent Gas Works.
In September 1916 the Abertillery District Council appointed Mr E. D. Wooton as dual-manager at the Gas and Electric Works, Abertillery. Also part of the management were Mr I. G. Jenkins (Chief Clerk) and Mr Frederick King (Foreman).
The First Gas Showrooms.
In 1922 the council opened a small gas showrooms at the Gas Works, Abertillery.
In 1923 the Abertillery Gas Works committee consisted of the following members – Mr W. Williams (Chairman); Mr W. F. Walters; Mr R. Tudor; Mr L. Elliott; Mr H. J. Davies; Mr S. Pask; Mr D. Smith; Mr J. T. Boots and Mr F. W. Chivers:
Mr Ifor G. Jenkins.
Sometime in the early 1920’s the Chief Clerk, Mr Ifor G. Jenkins became the gas manager at the Abertillery Gas Works.
Gas Boiling Ring Appliances.
In 1923 the council offered all residents of Abertillery and district a gas boiling-ring. This scheme was met with success and the figures can be seen below.
The Second Gas Showrooms.
In 1924 the gas showrooms at the gas works became too small for purpose, the council opened a new showroom and depot at 19 Chapel Street, Abertillery.
On Monday 26th January 1925 a special meeting was held of the Abertillery Chamber of Trade Committee at the Assembly Rooms at the Liberal Club, Abertillery. At this meeting councillor Mr T. H. Prichard made public a letter from Mr Edgar Bevan on the finances of the Abertillery District Council for the year ending March 1924, amongst the usual outlay it was stated the gas works had made a profit of £915 and the profit of the electrical works were £14 which had previously been a loss. The salaries of the gas manager and workers were paid for out of the receipts and not from the rates. A portion of the surveyors salary and fifty per cent of the other inspectors and attendance officers were provided by the government and other funds from outside the district.
Gas Lighting Appliances.
In 1925 the council offered all residents of Abertillery and district a “Bijou Burner”, medium or universal size, complete with globe and mantle for 2s. each with free fitting. This scheme was met with success and the figures can be seen below.
On Tuesday 22nd September 1925 a Ministry of Health inquiry was held at the Abertillery Council Chambers in connection with an application to borrow £13,500 for the installation of new vertical retorts at the Gas Works, Abertillery. The inquiry was conducted by Mr H. R. Hooper O.B.E., M.Inst. C.E. Also present were Mr W. Gait (Clerk); Mr Ifor G. Jenkins (Gas Manager); Mr R. Prosser (Accountant); Dr T. B. Smith (Medical Officer); Mr A. G. Jones (Surveyor); Mr L. Elliott (Chairman); Mr W. Williams and Mr W. Beynon:
At this meeting it was stated that the council had proposed to install the vertical retorts in 1914, though as of the outbreak of war the the proposition fell through. The planning was again brought up in 1920 but owing to the high prices ruling the scheme was abandoned. There were arguments over the advisability of granting the money for the vertical retorts as the coal supplied was not suitable for the plant and the matter was referred for 12 months. The gas manager reported the following statistics – Ordinary customers were being charged 5s. 7d. for 50,000 cubic feet per quarter.
For power, customers were being charged 4s. 7d. Meter customers 6s. The council were providing three free lights and gas cooker or ring. There were still two gas holders, the large holding 479,000 cubic feet capacity and a small one with a capacity of 162,000 cubic feet. At this time the smaller holder was reported as being damaged by subsidence and was being used as a relief holder for water gas. The number of gas lamps in use in the district was 550 with 712 electric lamps.
In 1928 the gas holder at the Gas Works, Abertillery suffered serious damage from so called mining subsidence and had to be repaired, the matter was brought up at the Houses of Parliament by Mr George Barker M.P., for Abertillery. Mr Barker put the subject before the mining secretary. It seems that there was no case to answer and the subject was closed.
Gas Cooking Appliances.
In 1929 the council offered all residents of Abertillery and district a “Packed Gas Cooker” with a white enamel door, fitted free with a 5s. delivery charge, with no further charges. This scheme was met with success and the figures can be seen below.
The Third Gas Showrooms.
In August 1930 owing to the increasing demand for gas a new gas showrooms were opened at Somerset Street, Abertillery. The new premises, called the Abertillery Gas Showrooms, were originally occupied by the National Providential Bank was officially opened by Mr T. Gale, chairman of the gas committee of the Abertillery Urban District Council.
In May 1933 the Wales and Monmouthshire Association of Gas Engineers and Managers held their 28th annual meeting at the Bush Hotel, Abertillery. The chairman and president Mr Ifor G. Jenkins gave an account of the gas scheme in Abertillery and stated the following facts – The Gas Boiling Ring scheme introduced in 1923 had seen 2,682 issued to the public. The Bijou Burner Lighting scheme introduced in 1925 had seen 13,008 issued to the public, later a similar Bruner Light with fixed fittings was introduced which saw 1,692 being issued. The Gas Cooker scheme introduced in 1929 to date 1,608 had been fitted by the council. Mr Jenkins stated that gas fires, wash boilers, irons and other appliances are supplied on easy payment systems, monthly or quarterly over periods of two, three or five years and also mentioned how the Gas Showrooms at Abertillery had become a hub upon which the gas sales turned with over 700 hire purchase accounts were dealt with each month.
In January 1934 Mr Ifor G. Jenkins, gas manager at the Abertillery Gas Works, left the district to take up an appointment with a London firm. Mr Jenkins was also the president of the Wales and Monmouthshire Association of Gas Engineers and Managers.
Mr Harry Maycock M.Inst.
In January 1934 Mr Harry Maycock M.Inst. the gas engineer became the new gas manager at the Gas Works, Abertillery. Mr Maycock was educated at Hanley, Bedford, Halifax Gas College. He had worked at Stoke-on-Trent, was manager at Sittingbourne District Gas Company and prior to coming to Abertillery was on the staff of the Technical College, Medway, Rochester as a lecturer.
In July 1935 the Abertillery Gas Works were testing the coal from Llanerch Padern Coal Level, Cwmtillery.
Gas Engineer Apprentices.
In May 1936 the Abertillery Gas Works committee began an apprenticeship scheme, two 14 year old boys were employed on a wage of 15s. per week for the first year, rising by 5s. per annum to 40s. in the sixth year. In the seventh year to 47s. 6d. and in the eighth year to 55s.
The Gas Works Modernisation.
In July 1936 the council heard that the Ministry of Health would conduct an inquiry into an application by the council for a loan of £20,000 for modernising the Gas Works at Abertillery. There were fears that there may be objections to the application as to the developments in electricity. The application was approved, Mr R. H. Sutcliffe was appointed clerk of the works, with Messrs Beynon, Hardwick, Day, Hillman and Haynes appointed Gas Works Sub-Committee and the major alterations went ahead.
The New Extensions to the Gas Works at Abertillery.
On Thursday 4th February 1937 the opening ceremony of the new Abertillery Gas Works Extensions took place after £27,000 worth of new extensions and renovations. The new gas works plant was erected by Messrs W. J. Jenkins & Co Ltd of Retford and was said to have been the second best in Wales. Cardiff Gas Works held first place. The foundation work was started in May 1936 and gas making commenced on the 4th December 1936.
The Gas Tanks and Holders.
The gas holder was constructed by Firth, Blakeley, Sons & Co Ltd of Vulvan Ironworks, Church Fenton, Leeds. The gas tank was 82′ feet in diameter 27′ feet deep. The gas holder was of a spiral-guided type, in two lifts. The inner was 77′ feet 9″ inches in diameter by 26′ feet 6″ inches deep. The outer being 80′ feet 1″ inch diameter by 26′ feet 6″ inches deep with a total working capacity of 250,000 cubic feet.
All materials used in the construction of the gas holder were of British manufacture. The total weight of the gas tank was 110 tons, the gas holder was 109 tons. The tank contained 887,000 gallons of water weighing 3,960 tons being a total weight on the concrete foundations of 4,179 tons. The were over 18,000 rivets used in the construction of the tank, 116,000 in the construction of the gas holder with the addition of thousands of bolts and 21,000 feet of jointing tape used on the riveted seams.
The Benzol Rectification Plant.
The Benzol Rectification Plant was installed by Messrs Kirkham, Hulett & Chandler Ltd of Union Foundry, Mansfield. The main benzol storage tank had a capacity of 2,000 gallons and was erected on steel framework at the side of the rectification plant. It was used for cleaning the various parts such as tubes etc in the heat exchanger and oil cooler and to prevent any blockages occurring due to the deposition of naphthalene.
The Abertillery Gas Works chairman was Mr William E. Hardwick, The gas works manager was Mr Harry Maycock M.Inst.
The Employees Rooms.
At the new gas works the council had a new mess room and shower baths built. A locker room for clean and dirty clothes with an up-to-date first aid room. There was also a strip of ground adjoining the new works for recreational purposes.
Statistics of Gas Usage in February 1937.
By 1937 the gas facilities at Abertillery had greatly increased. The supply had been extended to Bournville, Cwmtillery, Abertillery, Six Bells and installed at the G.W.R. railway station and engine sheds at Aberbeeg, with 28 and a half miles of mains laid. There were 4,700 prepayment meters, 300 ordinary meters. There were 3,500 cookers, 1,000 wash boilers. The gas used in 1894 was 14,000,000 cubic feet, coal carbonised was 1,433 tons. In 1937 gas used was 93,000,000 cubic feet, coal carbonised was 5,784 tons. The gas works had made a profit of £38,062 the losses amounted to £9,662.
Natural Gas Conversion.
In 1948 the Labour Party of the United Kingdom reshaped the gas industry bringing in the Gas Act of 1948. The gas companies were merged into 12 area Gas Boards.
Between 1967 and 1977, after 100 years of the local boards and council’s production and supply of coal gas, the domestic supplies were converted to natural gas. The Gas Works at Abertillery closed during the conversion.
In 1972 the gas industry was again restructured and under the Gas Act of 1972 the areas Gas Boards were merged to became the British Gas Corporation. In 1986 the British Gas Corporation was privatised by the Conservative Party and became British Gas plc. In December 1986 its shares were floated on the Stock Market. In 1997 British Gas plc demerged to form 3 separate companies – Centrica plc, British Gas plc and Transco plc.
In 1994 the Gas Board began a five year closure programme of its gas showrooms, shortly after, the Gas Showroom in Somerset Street, Abertillery closed. All gas enquiries, payments and sales etc, was for a short time dealt with in the Electricity Showroom, Abertillery.
The old Gas Showroom premises in Somerset Street were later occupied by Mane Attraction (Hairdressers), a mobile phone shop, a clothes shop and is now the Abertillery Dental Surgery. By 1999 all of the company’s showrooms had closed.
Notes of Interest – Gas from Coal.
The first use of producing gas from coal dates back to the turn of the 18th century. To manufacture the gas, amounts of coal had to be heated in enclosed ovens with a very poor oxygen supply, the gases generated by this heating consisted of various substances such as methane, hydrogen, ethylene and carbon monoxide. The production also produced unwanted compounds such as sulphur and ammonia as well as heavy hydrocarbons, because of this the gas had to be purified before being sent to and used by the customer.
This gas was initially manufactured for street lighting and manufacturing purposes, later for home lighting and by the 1900’s it was being used for heating and cooking.
Brynmawr Town was first lit by gas as early as 1848. This fact was reported in the Monmouthshire Merlin Newspaper on the 19th August 1848.