A-Z of industries
Country House Gasworks
(Page created 18/05/12)
By the 1860s, most of the towns in what is now Cumbria had their own gasworks producing coal gas for lighting the streets, public buildings, shops, and the town houses of those well enough off to afford it. Click here to find out more).
But the companies that ran these gasworks were always reluctant to extend their areas of supply unless they could see a profit in it - the cost and the technical difficulty of laying mains for any distance made it not worth their while.
This meant that anyone outside town who wanted the benefit of gas lighting had no choice but to make their own. These independent producers included mills such as the woollen mill at Mealbank near Kendal, hotels such as the Ferry House on Windermere, even the county lunatic asylum (as it was known) outside Carlisle.
Also included were a number of country houses, from Netherby Hall near Longtown in the north of the county to Boarbank Hall near Grange-over-Sands in the south. Most were smaller versions of the town gasworks, producing gas from coal. Easier and cheaper methods were introduced around the turn of the century - producing acetylene gas from carbide, or using the vapour created by mixing petrol and air.
Here is a list of the country house gasworks identified to date. Please let me know via the e-mail address on the welcome page if you find any more. Coal gasworks needed gas holders to store what they made, and these can usually be seen on old maps. Acetylene or petrol/air gas was not stored - just produced when needed - and the apparatus involved was much smaller and simpler. As a result they tend not to show on old maps, but may get a mention in documents such as sales notices.
|Place||Type||Date||Evidence||Notes||Remains (if known)|
|Petrol/air||1920s||Personal correspondence & recollections from previous resident||Gas house demolished. Pipework in house cellar|
|Acetylene||Reference in 1910 Finance Act surveyor's notebook||House demolished||None|
|?||1873 - 1885||List of tenant's fixtures at CRO D/Cu/3/88 includes "apparatus for gas-making"|
|Coal||After purchase by Henry Chandler in 1863||OS 25" 2nd ed map.
Barrow CRO BD3/17/SP3/24 - 1898 sales particulars
|Later (1921) sales notice advertises "electric lighting"||Retort house still obvious. Field wall bends round where gas holder stood|
|Coal||OS 25" 2nd ed map.
Cumbria HER no.10352
|Referred to as "Rockcliffe Gas Works" on HER||None|
Hall, Edenhall, Penrith.
|Coal||Given as 1876 in local walks leaflet||OS 25" 2nd ed map.
Cumbria HER no.11163
|Hall rebuit in late 1860s, and demolished 1934||HER refers to "site of old gasometer", but the retort house is still on site|
Foot, Newby Bridge.
|Coal||Date stone 1869||OS 6" 2nd ed map.
National Trust conservation plan
|House demolished 1907/08. Previous owner had steam yachts lit by "gas making apparatus"||Gasworks converted to cottage - Grade II listed. Gas lights in boathouse.|
|Acetylene||1921 sale notice includes "gas house with acetylene generating plant"||House demolished 1957||None|
|Coal||OS 25" 2nd ed map shows site of "gasometer"||Bought as a "hunting lodge" in 1888 by Earl of Lonsdale|
|Holmrook Hall, Gosforth.
|Acetylene||1923 sales particulars mention acetylene gas|
|Lowther Castle, Penrith.
|Coal||OS 25" 2nd ed map shows "Gasworks" at the "Saw Mill" in the North Park||Lowther Archive has a 1888 booklet showing route of gas pipes to castle|
|Petrol/air||Two plants - 1911 & 1916||CRO archive D TH 2/39 and 2/47 - correspondence re installation - one plant replacing the other?||House demolished||None|
|Coal||OS 25" 2nd ed map shows "Gas Works"|
|Coal||OS 25" 2nd ed map shows "Gasometer" at Rigmaden Farm|
|Coal||New house built 1868-69||Gasometer on OS 25" 2nd ed - in the village||Shape of gasometer evident in village garden until recently|
|Producer gas||Powered generator to supply electric lighting||Electrical switchboard in the Power House|
|Coal||Gasometer on OS 25" 2nd ed map|
Hall, Kirkby Lonsdale.
|Coal||Gasometer on OS 25" 2nd ed map - at the Home Farm|
|Coal||Pre 1865||In an 1865 local newspaper
listing places built with stone from a local quarry.
Gasometer on OS 25" 2nd ed map - near Bridge End
|A few lumps and bumps in a field|