DescriptionThe collection contains an Order Book of the Commissioners, dating back to the earliest days of gas lighting, in 1818. It also contains: Minute Books of meetings of the Directors and Committees; a wealth of title deeds and associated papers relating to land in Dudley and surrounding area, owned by the Company; correspondence; and some legal papers including a licence for the Company to use a patent method of purifying gas.
TermGas supply
Gas industry
Extent3 boxes; 7 volumes.
AdminHistoryIn 1791, during the Reign of George III, an Act of Parliament was made, entitled 'An Act for better paving cleansing lighting watching and otherwise improving the Town of Dudley in the County of Worcester and for better supplying the said Town with water'.

A meeting of the inhabitants of the Town of Dudley was called on Tuesday 7th April 1818, at the Town Hall, Dudley, 'for the purpose of taking into consideration the propriety of entering into a subscription for the establishment of a Gas Light Company for lighting the said Town.' At the meeting, it was resolved to form a company to undertake the lighting of Dudley by gas light, and a Committee was formed. On 9th May 1818, Mr Clegg was appointed as Engineer to the Company. At a Committee Meeting on 13th May 1818, it was agreed that the Committee would try to find a suitable plot of land on which to erect the necessary buildings and machinery to carry out the plan of lighting Dudley by gas. The Committee advertised in the Birmingham Gazette and the Wolverhampton Chronicle for tenders from 'Ironfounders and others' for the 'supply of cast iron pipes, laying down, joining and completing the same and making good the pavement, and also for building a Gasometer 48 feet diameter and 16 feet deep and a Brick Tank 49 feet diameter and 16 feet deep.'

The Commissioners then looked for a small plot of land, for the purposes of erecting a Gasometer and other necessary buildings for lighting the town of Dudley with gas. Suitable land was found at 'Cook's Tettenhall' in Dudley, near to a carriage road at Pit's Hole. This land was purchased by the Dudley Gas Light Company from The Right Honorable William Viscount Dudley and Ward, Baron of Birmingham in the County of Warwick, and his son the Honorable John William Ward, under a Deed of Appointment dated 1st April 1820.

The 'Town of Dudley Gaslight Company' was incorporated by an Act passed in the first and second years of the reign of King George IV (1823-1824), entitled 'An Act for incorporating the Town of Dudley Gaslight Company'. In 1851, the Gas Works were listed in a trade directory as being in Fountain Street, Dudley, and the manager was Mr William Richardson.

A further Act of Parliament in 1853 recorded that since the original Act of 1791, 'the Town of Dudley and the Suburbs thereof have greatly increased, and in order to meet the additional Demand for Gas occasioned thereby the Company have extended their Works'.

In 1907, the Secretary of the Town of Dudley Gas Light Company was Mr T.E. Stillard, of The Gas Works, Dudley. Kelly's Directory of Worcestershire, 1924, contains an entry for 'Dudley Gas Light Co., (George Ernest Ashurst A.C.I.S., sec.; Francis Charles Briggs, Assoc.M.Inst.C.E., A.M.I.Mech.E., engineer and manager; Arthur Stillard, collector), Spring Gardens.'

In 1928, the Directors of the Company were: Mr W.W. Skidmore-Westwood (Chairman); Mr E.C. Theedam, J.P.; Mr J. Hipkins; and Mr W.H. Thompson. The Engineer and Manager of the firm was Mr F.C. Briggs. In the same year, a new Gas Showroom was opened by the Company at 70, High Street, Dudley. This, according to a contemporary account, 'has not only added a very attractive shop in the main thoroughfare but increased considerably the convenience of its consumers.' The new showroom was opened by the Mayoress of Dudley, Mrs W. Bradford.

In 1929, the Town of Dudley Gas Light Company changed its name to 'The Dudley Gas Company' under a special order made by the Board of Trade. At this time, it also applied for permission to adapt any land purchased or leased by the company for the purpose of a recreation ground for employees.

In 1931, the Dudley Gas Company again changed its name to the Dudley, Brierley Hill and District Gas Company. In April 1930, an application was made to the Board of Trade for a special order, under the Gas Undertakings Acts of 1920 and 1929, to allow the Company to buy the Brierley Hill District Gas Light Company. The Brierley Hill company had been set up in 1865, and was amalgamated with the Dudley company in 1931. From 1931, the area supplied with gas by the Dudley, Brierley Hill and District Company included: the Borough of Dudley; a portion of the Urban District of Sedgley; Brierley Hill; Quarry Bank; Himley; Kinver; and Wombourn. The Head Offices of the company were at Spring Gardens, Dudley.

At the Annual General Meeting of the Dudley, Brierley Hill and District Gas Company, held on 25th February 1937, it was recorded that 'During the past year all records had been broken in respect of gas sales, number of consumers, number of appliances fixed and the amount of street lighting.' The Brierley Hill Official Guide for 1937 contains an article about gas supplies and praises the Dudley, Brierley Hill and District Gas Company, whose 'long record of attention to the needs of the local community, its unexcelled knowledge of the problems of gas distribution in the Black Country, combined with a most up-to-date gas-making plant and a keen and highly skilled staff, mean that consumers may rely on a maximum of satisfactory service.'

By 1958, the supply of gas to Dudley had been taken over by the Dudley District section of the West Midlands Gas Board. The total area supplied by this section in 1958 was approximately 35 square miles. The district offices were still at Dudley Gas Works, which was a manufacturing and distribution station, and there were also other stations at Brierley Hill, Kinver and Kingswinford.

The records of Dudley, Brierley Hill and District Gas Company were deposited at Dudley Archives and Local History Service in March 1975 as Accession No. 8275. They were catalogued as part of the 'Documenting the Workshop of the World' Project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, in April 2006, by Liz Newman, Project Archivist.
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