THE GAS HOUSE
Adapted from the papers & photographs of my late Grandfather
William Frederick IVEY
The old GAS HOUSE in St. John`s Road served a useful purpose in the town for many years, and apart from oil lamps, was the only means of providing illumination and heating for cooking.
For many years it provided illumination for the streets of Helston until electricity superseded the old flickering, in some cases, naked flame illumination. It has been said that Helston was the first town in England to install the newly invented gas lighting of William Murdock of Redruth.
Helston Gas Company was formed in 1820.
Murdock invented his gas lighting in 1792. He died in 1839.
It was a familiar sight 100 years ago to see a gentleman parading Helston streets at dusk carrying a short ladder and climbing the few staves to light the gas illumination. The process would be enacted in reverse late at night. I later became involved with the old gentleman’s family by marrying his grand-daughter. He was known, not disrespectfully, as `Old John Rogers down gas house!`
The residue of the gas processing produced tar, a substance by the bucketful, which would be used for a variety of purposes, chiefly to deter rain penetrating sheds or rooftops. I have been told that tar would be sold at 3 pence (3d) per bucketful.
The gas house and its adjoining buildings have been completely demolished and the site developed with small flats and cottages occupied generally by senior citizens.