Gas comes to Greater Preston

The 8 December 1879 issue of the Preston Guardian reported that gas lighting had been introduced at Ashton and Walton-le-Dale, which would have been more than sixty years after Preston became the first town (other than London) to be lighted with gas. In fact, it looks like the Guardian got its dates wrong.

Sue Latimer, who is researching the Ashton Freehold estate for an MA by Research at UCLan, supplied the following:

Ashton Freehold – though probably not beyond that – had a gas supply within a couple of years of setting out the estate. At the second AGM in October 1861, they were waiting for the gas company to install the supply (and hoping that they would do so before the roads were laid). Two years later – no further AGM reports having come to light – a house was advertised with gas pipes to each room, so they obviously got the job done eventually.

In March 1877 though, there’s a report of a meeting to discuss the lighting of the streets in Ashton more widely – from Long Lane down to the Preston boundary at Tulketh Brow and Tulketh Road – which agreed to contract with Preston Gas Company to install lamp posts, supply gas and maintain the lamps. There was then another meeting in September – as the earlier one hadn’t been quite legal – which unanimously agreed a larger area including the streets down to the river. The gas company seem to have moved remarkably swiftly as the Preston Pilot reported in December the same year that Ashton – and Walton-le-Dale – had been lit for the first time by gas from Preston.

Fr Joseph Dunn, priest at St Wilfrid's Prestonri

The Preston Gas Company had been set up in 1815, largely at the instigation of the Rev Joseph Dunn, priest at St Wilfrid’s RC Church (pictured). The Catholic connection stemmed from the Rev Dunn’s friendship with the engineer Samuel Clegg, who had introduced gas lighting at Stonyhurst College in 1811.

Early in 1816 gas lamps were being installed in the town, replacing the oil lamps and candles that had provided illumination until then, and which continued to light homes in Walton-le-Dale and Ashton for another six decades.

For a fuller account of the introduction of gas in Preston, see pages 267 to 269 of Hewitson’s History of Preston.

And for an even fuller account see Brian Awty’s article for the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, ‘The introduction of gas-lighting to Preston’:…/vol…/attachment/125-5-awty/

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