History of British Gas
Celebrating over 200 years of British Gas
British Gas is one of the oldest companies in the world with its origins going back over 200 years.
Please scroll down to take a look at our history.
1812 - 1826
The Gas Light & Coke Company (GLCC) is set up after royal approval by George III while Britain is still at war with Napoleon.
Preston becomes the first town in the UK to have gas street lights. Until the 20th century, gas was primarily used for street lighting.
GLCC design the world’s first gas meter which is installed at the gas works of the Royal Mint.
The world’s first gas cooker is designed by James Sharp.
1827 - 1868
GLCC now supplies gas to 70,000 street lights in London
The world’s first gas powered bath is designed.
Robert Bunsen invents the Bunsen Burner and changes the industry forever. He improved the combustion of gas by drawing in air, which created a more intense flame. This resulted in the first gas fire being developed a year later.
The world’s first domestic water heater is designed.
1870 - 1918
The pre-payment gas meter is designed.
Carl Auer von Welsbach designs the incandescent gas mantle which brightens the light generated by a naked flame and creates a huge demand for domestic gas lighting.
First gas holder is built at Northwich.
World War I begins. The GLCC supplies town gas to munitions factories and the waste products of coal are used to produce disinfectant for injured soldiers, petroleum and coke for domestic homes to burn. Women became essential to work in every manual job there was. Once the war was over, many women didn’t want to return to domestic service.
1923 - 1939
Thermostats on gas ovens are introduced.
The first waterless gas holder in the UK is built at Ipswich.
The Women’s Gas Council is set up to promote domestic gas use.
GLCC builds Kensal House in London, a housing scheme for low income families.
1940 - 1956
The London Regional Gas Centre is set up to repair any areas damaged by bombing raids. After a bombing of St Pauls Cathedral, they had to fight through flames to turn off the gas mains next to an unexploded bomb.
The British Coal industry is nationalised.
Prime Minister Clement Atlee rolls out the Gas Act,which begins to nationalise the industry and creates 12 regional gas boards. This ends the GLCC.
Queen Elizabeth II opens Britain’s first nuclear power plant in Cumberland.
1957 - 1967
The Clean Air Act is introduced, which boosts the use of gas fires for heating.
Rising coal prices drove a move towards oil based gas and imported liquefied natural gas.
North Sea gas discovered off Grimsby.
The Gas council announces the move from town (manufactured) to natural gas. The project to refit 40 million appliances cost over £500 million and took 10 years to complete.
1968 - 1981
CORGI (Council for Registered Gas Installers) is formed after a gas explosion at Ronan Point in London. The aim was to reduce injuries and fatalities from explosions and carbon monoxide poisoning.
The Gas Council is abolished and replaced by the British Gas Corporation.
Business use of gas exceeds domestic use for the first time.
The UK’s last town gas works closes in Scotland.
1986 - 1990
The gas industry is privatised and British Gas Plc is formed.
Ofgas is created to regulate the gas industry.
Tell Sid campaign is launched allowing customers to buy a stake in British Gas.
The National Grid is formed.
1994 - 1998
British Gas is re-structured and Transco is created to transport and store gas.
British Gas splits into separate companies, Centrica Plc and BG Plc.
The first gas connection with Europe is launched at Bacton in Norfolk.
British Gas starts selling electricity to customers.
2000 - 2012
Lattice group (the parent of Transco) splits from BG Plc.
Lattice merges with the National Grid to form National Grid Transco plc.
Smart meters are introduced.
British Gas celebrates its 200th birthday.