by Roger Baker
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.
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.
This is a list of places in Cumbria – mostly industrial sites – that built their own gasworks to supply their needs, mainly for lighting. Most of them were some distance from the mains at the time, some just chose to go it alone.
There a separate list of country house gasworks on this website, and more information about the history of the town gas works can be found by clicking on the link to Gasworks in Cumbria.
Thanks to everyone who has contributed to this list. 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.
|Allenwood, Heads Nook NY 490558||Paper mill||coal||1901 OS 25” shows gasometer|
|Arnside SD 462788||Station and/or village||coal||OS 25” 2nd ed Furness Railway plan of 1914Ref to Arnside Gas Company of 1901||A mystery. Was it built? Did it ever start production?|
|Barrow – Furness Railway SD 204687||Railway workshops||coal||Furness Railway plan of 1856.Diary of William Fisher ;”In 1854 the FRC built a gas works in the railway yard to light the company’s premises”||Barrow (town) gasworks opened in 1861|
|Blennerhasset, Aspatria – Mechi FarmNY 174411||Model farm||coal||Ten years of gentleman farming, 1874. “Gas house and smithy stand alone”||Gas lit 1st April 1865.Also supplied the village|
|Buckabank NY 371494||Cotton mill||coal||OS 25” 1st ed shows gasometer|
|Burneside SD 505959||Paper mill||coal||OS 2nd ed shows gasometer.Fatal accident reported in Kendal Mercury, 10 April 1858|
|Caldbeck – St. Kentigern’s NY 325399||Church||petrol/air?||OS 1st ed shows gasometer|
|Carlisle – LNWR NY 419516||Railway workshops||coal||1900 25” shows gasometer at Upperby sheds|
|Carlisle – Raven Nook NY 414557||Woollen weaving mill||coal||Carlisle Journal, 28 February 1851, description of new mill inc. gas works|
|Carlisle – Midland Railway||Works||coal?||1870 advert for manager of the company’s “Water and Gas Works”||Not traced – loco shed was at NY 422548|
|Carlisle – Carr & Co NY 393560||Works||coal||CRO drawings of 1892||Was it built?|
|Carlisle – Garlands Hospital NY 433539||Hospital||coal||25” 1st ed 1865 shows “gas and water works “ and gasometer. Asylum minutes show tender accepted 1861.|
|Cockermouth, Keswick & Penrith Railway||Stations||acetylene||Bowtell, H. Rails through Lakeland, Vol 1,1999||Installed 1898-1909 at 7 wayside stations|
|Cummersdale NY 394532||Cotton mill||coal||OS 25” 1st ed shows gasometer|
|Dalston – Low Green NY 373508||Cotton mill||coal||OS 25” 1st ed shows gasometer|
|ElterwaterNY 326052||Gunpowder works||producer||Gas engine references in English Heritage report pp.24 & 34|
|EmbletonNY 175307||Quarry||producer||Glover : The quarries of Lakeland – “vast amount of plant powered by gas engines” (1931)|
|Force Crag, Braithwaite NY 199216||Barytes mill||producer||Tyler : Force Crag – “power for the mill was supplied by 2 gas engines” (1908)|
|Ferry House, Windermere SD 389955||Hotel||coal||25” 2nd edReport of death of retired “gas maker” in August 1916 in Ian Muir – The Ferry Inn on Windermere||New Ferry Inn opened 1881|
|Furness Railway||Stations||acetylene||CRO plan of Lindal Station. Likely elsewhere||Old photos of other stations with gas lamps|
|Gatebeck SD 548858||Gunpowder works||coal?producer?||“a coal gas plant” at the High Works mentioned on p.17 of English Heritage report on the Low Gatebeck works, but a “gas generator house” on post-1926 plan||More likely to have been a producer gas plant powering a gas engine?|
|Gilsland – Spa Hotel NY 632677||Hotel||coal||6” 1st & 2ndCumbria HER|
|Greenodd, Ulverston SD 314826||Saw mill||coal||25” 2nd ed, CRO plan, Ulverston Advertiser 29/9/1853 report of accident||Did it also supply the village streets?|
|Heversham SD 496834||Church||petrol/air?||“Gas generating plant” ref in Sisson : A century of Heversham & Leasgill1902 CRO plans for gas pipes and bracket lamps||More likely supplied by Milnthorpe gas works. 1903 invoice in CRO|
|Kirkhouse, Brampton NY 568599||Railway works||coal||1899 OS map. Listed building – dated 1883 – described as “colliery gasworks”. See also Webb, Brian & Gordon, D.A. – Lord Carlisle’s Railways||More likely supplied nearby engineering works (and village church!)|
|Lakeside, Windermere SD 378873||Station||coal||25” 2nd edLDNP HER||Also for lighting steamers?|
|Levens SD 487862||Village institute||1.petrol/air2.acetylene||History of the Institute (Chambers), and Finance Act (1910) surveyors’ notes in History Society archive||1.1911-18 2.1923-?|
|Levens, Lords Plain SD 474865||Farm||producer||Finance Act (1910) surveyors’ notes|
|Lindal SD 255757||Iron ore crushing plant etc||coal||25” 2nd ed + photos||Also supplied company offices and manager’s house|
|Lowca Foundry NX 983213||Works||coal||1st ed OS map|
|Lowther Pit, Great Clifton NY 048301||Coal mine||coal||Gasometer shown on 1st ed OS map||Gasometer some distance from early coke ovens – no connection?|
|Low Wood, Windermere NY 386021||Hotel||?||“the 1871 and 1881 census show a resident ‘gas man’ and ‘gasmaker’ respectively||Terry Marsh article in Trans. of the CWAAS, 2014|
|Mealbank SD 541957||Woollen mill||coal||OS 2nd ed 25” 1898 shows gasometer|
|Penny BridgeSD 308838||Paper mill||?||Barrow Times 30.3.1878 sale notice inc “complete gas-making plant”|
|Roa Island SD 232649||Station + village||coal||25” 2nd ed. Cumbria Railways Assoc. archive and journal||Lifeboat house, watch tower, + leading lights in channel supplied|
|Scotby, Carlisle NY 440553||Tannery + village||coal||CRO archive, OS 1st ed , 1873 directory||shown on their letterheadsPurchased by Carlisle in 1891|
|Seascale NY 039009||1.Golf club 2.Church||acetylene||Article by Nev.Ramsden in the Seascale Magazine, July 2013||St.Cuthbert’s church and vicarage|
|Sedbergh – Birks Mill SD 652915||Woollen mill||petrol/air||13/12/1849 report of gas explosion1917 valuation report inc “has apparatus for petrol gas”|
|Sedbergh – Farfield MillSD 677919||Woollen mill||?||1851 list of rules includes “not hanging anything on gas pendants”||No evidence supplied by town gas|
|Sedbergh – School SD 656919||School||acetylene||Installed 1890-1900. School archives ref to gas pendants in 1893|
|Spark Bridge SD 307846||?||?||25” 2nd ed shows gasometersLDNP HER||Unusual location and no evidence of what supplied|
|Staveley – Chadwick’s Mill SD 472983||Bobbins/Wood turning mill||producer||Somervell : waterpower mills of South Westmorland – a “wood gas plant, burning waste material, replaced a steam engine in 1918”||BUT 1896 photo shows “gas house” and 1858 OS shows gasometer on site|
|TebayNY 612039||Station + houses||coal||25” 2nd ed shows 2 gasometers. Photo in Cumbria Railways collection|
|Waberthwaite SD 113944||Granite quarry||producer||Powered aerial ropeway to Furness Railway siding, and (?) crushing plant||Atkinson ; Millom pp.86/7|
|Warwick Bridge NY 479566||Woollen mill||coal||6” 1st ed shows gasometer. Also photo.Cumbria HER|
|Workington – Derwent Paper Mill NY 008293||Paper mill||coal||1866 OS 25”. 1890 valuation – “excellent … plant”|
(Page created 02/03/15. Last updated 23/11/15)