200 Years Ago in Norwich : Excessive Gas Usage

In my series of posts of things of interest (probably just to me, but perhaps one of my two loyal readers) in the Norwich Mercury of 200 years ago, I rather liked the angry advertisement placed in the newspaper by the Norwich Gas Light Company. They stated:

“The committee of the Norwich Gas Light Company having ascertained that a large number of the consumers of gas are in the constant habit of burning considerable after the time for which they are charged, and that some persons use it in the morning, feel it necessary to state that if such practices are continued the penalties under the Act will be strictly enforced. They have also appointed an Inspector to enable them fully to carry this resolution into effect.

Signed, by Order of the Committee, J. Athow, clerk, October 1823.”

Not long after this the Norwich Gas Light Company were purchased by the British Gas Light Company, so they must have still been a tempting acquisition. In 1825, the British Gas Light Company applied to build a gasworks at the site which is now the courts complex at Bishopgate.

I’m not sure of the situation in Norwich, but these were the wild west days for the industry with no regulation and certainly no Ofgem to keep energy companies under control. The industry was very competitive and sabotage of rival’s gas supplies were common, meaning that customers consuming more gas that they were entitled to would have been a problem in a sector which was not producing large profits.