Gas production industry

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LARA ERA Industrial
LARA Record Number 11.44


The first gas works in the city was built at the junction of Carholme Road and Brayford Wharf North, behind the public wharf, shortly after the foundation of the Lincoln Gas, Light and Coke Co. in 1828, presumably in order to take advantage of the waterways to import coal. 1828 is a relatively early date for the establishment of an urban gas supply (although compare Stamford, 1825, and Boston, Gainsborough and Louth, 1826). Although this does not put Lincoln in the forefront of the development of the gas industry nationally, nevertheless, the works site on Brayford Wharf North is an important survival, and probably in quite unaltered condition (Hockley 1992b). The gas produced here was initially used in street lighting, and the company was given a substantial boost in 1836 when extensive gas lighting was commissioned by the City Council. In 1885 the company finally passed into the Council's ownership (ed. Birch 1906, 80, Nos. 760-2; Hill 1974, 226) and by 1887 the company had erected gasometers and other installations on the north side of Carholme Road, west of the original plant. This part of Brayford Wharf North was later known as Coal Wharf, presumably because of the quantities of coal imported by river to supply the retorts at the gas works. During the First World War a by-product recovery plant was installed to extract Toluol and Benzol for the high-explosive industries (Hockley 1992b, 6) and the remains of this plant will of great interest. A research agenda for this aspect of the Gas Industry is provided by Cocroft 2000. Production ceased at the Carholme Road site in 1932. As an early, and apparently little altered, gas-production site (with the additional interest of the Toluol and Benzol extraction plant) the Carholme Road plant represents a rare and important archaeological resource. A research agenda for early gas sites such as this is provided in the Step 1 Report (Trueman 1997). In 1876 a new gas works was begun between Newark Road and the GNR (Honington line), almost certainly designed to take advantage of deliveries of coal by rail, which were not possible on the Carholme Road site. This was a large plant, of considerable interest nationally as a representative of the great age of gas production (Trueman 1997), and will incorporate examples of the many technical improvements brought about within the industry during the central part of the 19th century. Major civic investment is recorded when the Council took over the Gas-Light and Coke Company in 1885, and an interesting study would be possible here of the impact of public investment in previously private industry. The interesting mechanisms by which the retorts were fed by coal from the railway via large hydraulic lifts (Herridge 1999, No.5225) need to be investigated through fabric study or through investigation during the course of repairs or development. The site was reconstructed in 1932-3, a move that brought the plant up to the latest standards, and the archaeological remains of this technological up-grade will also be of interest to historians of the gas industry.

LARA Boundaries

Both RAZ elements are mapped following the sites' depiction on the 1887 O.S. map and including a 10m wide extension on each side to accommodate buried features not mapped.