Tag Archives: gas works

1880 : Gas Workmen’s Outing

Croydon Guardian and Surrey County Gazette – Saturday 25 September 1880

Workmen’s Excursion.

— A party of tradesmen and other inhabitants of Mitcham, accompanied by Mr. William Jones, foreman of the Mitcham gasworks, left the “Nag’s Head,” Mitcham, on Tuesday morning, at 8.30, on an excursion to Kingswood, accompanied by a band, who played a variety of lively airs on the way.

The first stop was made the “Red Lion,” Kingswood, and from thence to Walton-on-the-hill. An unfortunate accident occurred here. As one of the musicians was ascending the steps of house he missed his footing, and was precipitated to the ground, where he lay for some time senseless. As soon the man was sufficiently recovered, the party entered the dining-hall of one of the chief public-houses in the place, where sumptuous repast had been prepared by the host.

After dinner the usual loyal toasts were proposed by Messrs. Rough, Baker, Wigmore, and others. Having spent some further time in the rural scenery of the surrounding neighbourhood, the party proceeded home, having spent a thoroughly enjoyable day.

Gas Works Building Names

At the Gas Works in Western Road, there was a staff competition to rename buildings, and office rooms. Chris Harding was the winner, and fortunately she kept the notice about the results.

GasWorks Building Names Comp

Congratulations to Chris Harding

You will see from the attached note that Chris Harding, who is part of our Power-dialling team, has won the building naming competition. Chris is currently on holiday so her success, and new Sony Handycam, will be a lovely surprise to come back to.

You will see from the attached note from Steve Lynch that Chris had given the theme considerable thought and we congratulate her on her successful entry.

I would also like to thank everyone else who entered the contest for their efforts. Once again…Well done Chris!
Paul Evans.

An interesting set of results. From 32 entries and five judges a maximum score of 50 points was possible and with two judges awarding top marks to the same entry, there was a dear winner Chris Harding (Predictive Dialling), who is now the proud owner of the Sony TR425E Handycam… congratulations.

In joint second places with 21 points each were the entries from Linda Hawkins and (Environment Support) and Liz Wellbelove (UCAD South London) but with 29 points.

The winning entry from Chris was developed around the idea of “what Mitcham is famous for”.
1. Its association with Lord Nelson who lived in the area and watched cricket on the green
2. Its lavender fields which supplied Potter & Moores who also lived in the area
3. William Morris had a print shop on the river Wandle at the Abbey Mills
4. Mitcham cricket pitch is one of the oldest in England

Armed with these vital facts Chris developed the theme of building and meeting room names to be:

NELSON HOUSE (was Surrey)
room 1 – Hamilton
room 2 – Victory
room 3 – Trafalgar

LAVENDER HOUSE (was north surrey)
room 1 – Harvest
room 2 – Field

WILLIAM MORRIS HOUSE (was the data centre)
room 1 – Liberty
room 2 – Print
room 3 – Wandle

room 1 – Boundary
room 2 – Linesman
room 3 – Crease
room 4 – Wicket

Thanks to all who took part and the judges for voting a clear winner… WELL DONE CHRIS. Watch out for details of our next Ops & Tek competition.
————— —

However, this document did not have a date!

James Welch

Death reported in Wimbledon Herald of 23rd February 1889


—Quite a large number of persons assembled in the Mitcham Churchyard, on Thursday, to witness the funeral of Mr. James Welch. The deceased had been a clerk in the employ of the Mitcham and Wimbledon Gas Company for many years, and was highly respected and esteemed. Deceased was also a very clever musician, and had acted as organist at the Zion Congregational Church. His was also a familiar figure at most of the local concerts. The coffin was carried from the house, Floral Cottages, to the churchyard by relays of men from the Gas Works, and was preceded by the Mitcham Brass Band, who played the Dead March in ” Saul.” The mourners consisted of the brother, brothers-in-law, uncles, and cousins of the deceased, and among those who followed were Mr. Green, the manager of the Gas, Works, and the Collector, Mr. Barter. The service was taken by the Vicar, the Rev. D. F. Wilson, and the coffin, covered with beautiful wreaths, one of which was from the employees of the Gas Company, was lowered amid many manifestations of regret. The deceased leaves a wife and three children. His death, which took place on the Thursday previous, was due to consumption.

How Coal Gas is Made

Mitcham News & Mercury
12th May, 1933

“The Manufacture of Gas” was the subject of a very interesting address given, at the weekly meeting of the Rotary Club of Mitcham, held on Monday at the “White Hart” Hotel, Mitcham.

The speaker, was Rotarian Edward Pellew-Harvey, of the Wandsworth and District Gas Co., and a member of the Mitcham Club, and he explained that the art of coal gas manufacture is considerably over a century old.

After dealing with the history of the production of coal he said that at the present time In the United Kingdom alone there are some 1,700 separate concerns promoted for the manufacture a gas. Of these 931 are operated under statutory powers, some 619 being owned by companies and 313 by local authorities. The capital employed by the statutory concerns is approximately £140,000,000. The total annual production of gas in the United Kingdom is approximately 300,000,000,000 cubic feet, which is distributed to 8,000,000 individual consumers through 40,000 miles of street mains.


The following is briefly, he added, the process of gas making. The coal is placed in numerous hermetically sealed fire clay or silica containers called retorts which are heated to a temperature of approximately 2,000 degrees F. by a mixture of furnace gas and air, which circulates round the retorts. There is practically no limit to the number of retorts used. At the Mitcham Works there are 192 working continually, each retort containing 12 cwt of coal, which remains in the retort for 12 hours, after which all the gas has been extracted from the coal, and approximately 9 cwt of coke left. Another charge is placed in the retort, which again remain for a period of 12 hours. From the foregoing figures it will be seen that at the Mitcham Works approximately 200 tons of coal per day are used for gas production.

Subsequently the gas is drawn away by means of a rotary pump, called an exhauster, through a series of condensers, which cool the gas to atmospheric temperature, and in so doing a portion of tar is recovered in the form of the dark thick liquid which is well known. From the condensers the gas travels through a series of cast iron or
steel rectangular vessels known as scrubbers, where, by washing, the ammonia is released, the final liquid, consisting of water and ammonia, being termed ammoniacal liquor.


From the scrubbers the gas passes through a series of cast iron boxes filled with oxide of iron, or ferric oxide, which extracts the sulphurated hydrogen. This gas being a poisonous one, has by law to be totally eliminated from the finished gas. The gas cleaned and purified, is now ready for use by the consumer, and is then metered and stored in the gas holder until required.

One ton of coal carbonised at a gas works yields coal gas, and the following main by-products, which in turn yield many valuable constituents. By distilling chemically the various oils contained in crude coal tar the following products are obtained: Dyes, perfumes and essences, explosives, chemicals used in medicine and surgery, such as anaesthetics, antiseptics and disinfectants; aperients, laxatives and emetics; photographic chemicals; wood preservatives, benzol, etc.

The cost of soot to the nation is tremendous. Manchester’s laundry bill, for instance, is £290,000 a year more than it would be if the air were clean. During heavy fogs, intensified by smoke, traffic is disorganised; in 27 days of fog during recent rears the ‘buses lost 400,000 working miles. But the damage which is most obvious to the general public is that done to our buildings. Soot and acid in the air involve the country in an expenditure of about £120,000 a year on the repair of Government buildings alone. It Is estimated that in London the financial loss due to smoke is nearly £7,000,000 a year.

Britain’s brightest days in recent years continued the speaker, were during the coal strike of 1926, when the air became clearer and purer than it has been observed within living memory. The fact is worth recalling, for today of the 33,000,000 tons of coal burned in Britain every year for domestic purposes about 3,200,000 tons pollute the air in the form of smoke and soot.

Smoke and soot are easily preventable, and the responsibility for polluting the air lies with each citizen. By taking advantage of the use of a smokeless fuel we can individually set a example, and to that extent give the sun a sporting chance of transmitting to us its health-giving rays. It is now a well-established fact that the ultra-violet rays of the sun, which are essential to our well-being, are shut up by the smoke clouds which hover continually over our big cities. On every square mile of our large towns there is a continuous soot fall, amounting in some cases to an annual deposit of hundreds of tons.


The magnitude of the industry may be judged by the following figures:

113,000 people are regularly employed in the gas industry;
the capital invested in the industry is about £200,000,000.
18,000,000 tons of coal are carbonised annually in British gas works;
the production of this coal gives employment to about 67,000 mine workers;
10,000,000 consumers regularly use some 1,000 million therms of gas a year;
50,000 miles of mains carry this fuel unfailingly to them;
7,000,000 British housewives cook by gas;
three out of every four doctors all over the country use gas fires;
four out of every five nursing homes and three out of
every four hospitals use gas for heating;
altogether the medical profession accounts for about 100,000 gas fires;
3,000 trades use gas for an average of seven processes in each;
the by-products obtained yearly from British gas works include 12,000,000 tons of coke, 120,000 tons of sulphate of ammonia, 215 million gallons of tar.

The speaker concluded by inviting the members of the club to visit the gas works at Mitcham on May 27.

Rotarian C. H. Parslow tendered thanks to the speaker for his excellent address and on behalf of the club accepted his kind invitation to visit the works of the gas company. Rotarian Riley Schofield presided, in the absence of the president, Rotarian Isaac H. Wilson, who was attending the Rotary Conference at Scarborough in company with the two vice-presidents, Rotarians Gauntlett and Cole.

The chairman welcomed guests from Wallington and Croydon Clubs.


Clothier family, c. 1915

Clothier family, c. 1915

Photo and notes below kindly provided by Peter Hannah.

The person seated is Edwin Joseph Clothier (1865-1926) and his wife Sarah Ann (Bryant) (1868-1941) At the back left to right is Percy Edwin (1889-1970) Daisey Beatrice (1891-1982) George Godfrey (1893-1978) and Walter Cecil (1895-1982). Sitting front middle is Harry Robert (1901-1958).

Edwin Joseph
Also known as Ted, worked for Mitcham Gas Works for 34 years from 1892 to his death in 1926. In 1911 he was the Foreman in the Carbonising Dept and at the time of his death he was the Superintendent of the Carbonising Dept. He died 3 weeks after a fall at the gas works when he fell down a man hole, the cover had been removed and he hadn’t noticed. His obituary was contained in the Gas Works magazine. He was also heavily involved in Mitcham Wanderers F.C where he was the Vice President. The historian of the current club Tooting & Mitcham Utd confirmed that a lot of the gas works staff were involved with Mitcham wanderers.

Edwin Joseph also appears in the Gas Works photograph on Merton Memories. He is the bottom middle photograph headed “Engineering Staff Group” and is seated front left of the 4 men.

An inquest was held into the death of Edwin Joseph due to the accident 3 weeks previously. The newspaper article stated that “they were one of the best known and respected families in Mitcham”.

Percy Edwin
The 1911 Census shows that he was an Inspector (Gas Meter) and Pre Payment Supervisor at Mitcham Gas Works. In the First World War he joined the Royal Engineers, No. 162808 was awarded Victory & British Medals.

Daisey Beatrice
She married Richard Cooper (1895-1982) He worked for Mitcham Gas Works for 48 years, working his way up to Chief Inspector. He served in the Signals Regiment in India during the 1st WW. He was also the Captain of Mitcham Wanderers F.C. Daisey, on the 1911 Census worked for Pascalls & Co as a Confectionary worker.

George Godfrey
The 1911 Census confirms he was a Fitters Mate, later to become a Fitter and worked for them until his retirement in the late 1950’s.. 1st WW he joined the 2/5th Bat. East Surrey Regiment, No. 2686, promoted to Corporal before he lost his leg and was discharged. He received the Silver War Badge, which he can be seen wearing in the Merton Heritage photograph of Mitcham Wanderers 1920/21 team photograph. He is on the right wearing a suit jacket with his hair parted in the middle.
See also George Godfrey Clothier.

Walter Cecil
The 1911 Census, when he was 15, confirms he was a Bakers Assistant, however his father’s obituary in 1926 confirmed that all the sons worked at that time at the Gas Works. When he joined is unknown. In the attached photo he is the one in uniform, he also joined the East Surrey Regiment, a private No. 200356 and was awarded the Victory & British Medals.

Harry Robert
The youngest so not sure if he signed up for the war. He was a Valve Room Attendant at the Gas Works.

Sarah Ann Clothier (Bryant)
Her brother James, on the 1911 Census, was an Automatic Slot Gas Collector at the Gas Works.

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George Richard Batson (1899 – 1918)