Harpenden Gas Company

From 1864 to 1936


We are glad to find that the inhabitants of Harpenden are establishing one of these very useful companies, which ought to exist in every locality.  It has been a matter of surprise that whilst Hatfield, Redbourn, Markyate Street, Kings Langley, Welwyn and Codicote have secured the advantage of this brilliant and economic light, Harpenden has remained in comparative darkness, although its importance as a town (it does say town) is quite equal to those we have mentioned.

Herts Advertiser 20th August 1864.


The end of April 1936 will see the closing down of Harpenden Gas Works: no more gas will be produced there.  They have been in use since Harpenden Gas Company was founded in 1864.  The company amalgamated with the Watford and St Albans Gas Company in July 1933, and the works at St Albans are already distributing gas through the main that was laid between Harpenden and St Albans last year.  The calorific value of the gas was increased on April 1st.  The two showrooms and offices will remain, together with the outdoor staff.  About fifteen employees at the Harpenden works are affected, and arrangements are being made to deal with them.

Herts Advertiser  24th April 1936

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Comments about this page

  • The Harpenden Gas Company was formed in 1864, but street lighting was not discussed until 1884, when a group of ratepayers agreed that “It is desirable and expedient to light the village with gas during the winter months”. In July 1887, a meeting of ratepayers carried a resolution to charge a 3d rate (c.1p) to pay for 50 lamps from Pimlico to Moreton End, the limit of the then existing gas main. The lamps would be lit from dusk to 11 pm from 14 September to 30 April, with the exception of three nights before full moon and one night after, to preserve the romance of moonlight! The first lamplighter was William George Read who did the round twice daily for 7s.6d a week (c.35p).

    A press cutting dated 29 July 1893 (archived in BF 20A.8b) describes the Annual Meeting of the Harpenden Lighting Inspectors. They voted to continue enforcing the Lighting Act, and to continue raising a rate of 3d on ratepayers “within the lighting district” . It was suggested that all ratepayers should pay for street lighting but it was pointed out that lighting could not be provided “outside the gas mains”. 

    Ed: we wonder whether records of the extent and later spread of gas mains can be found. Many of the older mains are now having to be replaced.

    By Rosemary Ross (21/01/2016)

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