Leighton Buzzard Gas Works
The Gas Works in 1901
Raymond Vivian Willis in his book The Coming of a Town: The Story of Leighton Buzzard and Linslade (1984) states that Leighton Buzzard Gas and Coke Company was created in 1835, operating a small gas works on the corner of Stanbridge Road and Billington Road. Gas was soon in great demand and the works had to double its production in 1846. Forty years later new premises were needed to keep up with demand.
The following entry for the Gas Works appears in Leighton Buzzard Past and Present published in 1905: "The Gas Works of the Leighton Buzzard Gas and Coke Company situated near the Grovebury Railway Crossing, were built in 1882 at a cost of £6,000; the whole covers an area of about three acres. During the last few years vast improvements have been made in the machinery and plant, and the works are now the most up-to-date of almost any country town of the size. Mr. C. F. Ruggles, the Secretary and Manager, has greatly extended the business and the stock always fetches high prices when any is offered for public competition".
By 1914 it was necessary to prepare a local Act of Parliament to extend the business. The preamble to the Bill reveals that the Leighton Buzzard Gas Act of 1891 had dissolved the Leighton Buzzard Gas and Coke Company, reforming it as the Leighton Buzzard Gas Company. The company provided gas to Leighton Buzzard, Heath and Reach and Linslade but the company wanted to be able to provide gas to the Bedfordshire parishes of Billington, Eggington and Stanbridge and the Buckinghamshire parishes of Grove, Mentmore, Slapton and Wing. It also wanted to consolidate the original stock of £12,106/10/- and the new ordinary stock of £13,001/8/- as well as to raise additional capital to meet the increasing demand for gas [QDP4/2/1].
Leighton Buzzard Gas Works about 1920 [Z50/72/171]
Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service has statements of accounts and reports from 1912 to 1940 [QDP4/2/1-29] and these give the names of the following directors: Robert Richmond, chairman 1912-1932; George Garside 1912-1925; J. H. Green 1912- 1935 (chairman 1933-1935); Theodore Bromhead Bassett 1912-1932; William Gravely W. Willis 1912-1936 (chairman 1936); Hugh F. Delafield 1926-1936; G. W. Richmond (1933-1936); L. F. Vick 1934-1940 (chairman 1937-1940); Colonel W. Moncrieff Carr, vice-chairman 1937-1939; H. F. H. Jones 1937-1939; J. M. Whittington 1937-1939; Edward Crowther 1937; Harry George Ruggles 1937-1939. Harry George Ruggles was also company secretary and gas works manager from at least 1912 until 1939 when Robert Ruggles took over.
From 1946 the Leighton Buzzard Gas Company became part of the Aylesbury-Leighton Buzzard Group of Gas Companies which, as well as those two towns, also included Princes Risborough, Thame, Tring and Winslow. R. V. Willis, in his book, states that production of gas in 1835 needed 600 tons of coal whereas by 1935 it was 6,000 tons. The gas works closed down in 1960 when gas was pumped from Reading Gas Works in Berkshire and by 1968 the town was converted to Natural Gas.
The Leighton Buzzard Gas Works about 1920 [Z50/72/172]
Sources at Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service:
- QDP4/2/1-29: Leighton Buzzard Gas Company reports and statements of account: 1912-1940;
- QDP4/1/1: Leighton Buzzard Gas Company Bill: 1914;
- QDP4/1/2: Leighton Buzzard Gas Company Act: 1914;
X301/1: Gas accounts for Leighton Buzzard Gas Company: 1915-1940;
- X301/3: Leighton Buzzard Gas Company minute book: 1918-1929;
- X301/4: Leighton Buzzard gas Company minute book: 1929-1936;
- X301/5: Leighton Buzzard Gas Company minute book: 1936-1949;
- QDP4/3/1: Leighton Buzzard Gas Company letterhead: 1939
- X301/2: Gas accounts for Leighton Buzzard Gas Company: 1940-1942;
- X301/6: Aylesbury-Leighton Buzzard Group of Gas Companies minute book of joint meetings and individual companies comprising those for Leighton Buzzard, Aylesbury, Princes Risborough, Thame, Tring and Winslow: 1946-1949