An Act of 1860 gave authority for Highbridge to provide gas lighting for the town or “hamlet” and as a result ‘ The Limited Company’ was formed during 1870 and the first supply of gas began in 1878. The Gas Works was located adjacent to the Great Western Railway line at the end of Springfield Road, (formerly known as Gas House Lane.)
The share capital paid amounted to £3500 with a dividend of 9%. At the first A.G.M. it was reported the cost had exceeded that anticipated due to the requirement to provide a gas supply to the Midland & South Western Railway Co. Works and also to their wharf sidings.
A few interesting details surviving from 1909 are:
Cost of coal for making gas, per ton approx. 12 shillings (60p)
Annual production of gas 9,000,000 cubic feet, using 900 tons of coal.
Number of street lamps – 60 Number of cooking stoves – 50
Number of consumers – 100 with the cost of gas at 3 shillings and 9 pence (19p)
Per 1000 cubic feet, there was a reduction for gas engines.
Manager – Mr. A. E. Tulk Secretary – Mr. T.F. Norris
Ownership of the Works passed to the Weston-super-Mare Gas Co. in 1933 – and Gas production ceased at Highbridge two years later.
(Information supplied by Mr. Eric Lynham).
RAILWAY “OIL”- GAS WORKS AT HIGHBRIDGE
An Oil Gas Works was built for the Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway Company in 1895. The oil- gas produced was used solely for the lighting of railway carriages and a specially designed gas making plant was used. It was located in a building on an approach road to the Locomotive Works on the Walrow side of the Walrow Bridge. The oil gas was first stored in a traditional gasholder before being transferred to cylinders 6ft. to 8 ft. long, at a pressure of 100 – 150 p.s.i.
The cylinders were suspended beneath the railway carriages; the gas was then piped to a number of gaslights within the carriage roof; this was at a lower pressure, (below 1 psi). This system replaced the existing individual lamps that used rope oil.
However, following a railway re-organisation in 1921 the works closed and gas production was moved in its entirety to Swindon.
(Information supplied by Mr Eric Lynham)