|Administrative / biographical background:
The British Gas Light Company was formed in 1824 with the objective ".. to contract with and supply Light to Towns or Places that may require Gas." The first permanent chairman was Jacob George Wrench, appointed in May 1825. In 1829 an AoP was obtained which incorporated the London station and effectively separated the London undertaking from the rest of the company's undertakings. The incorporated London company operated mainly in the east end of London until 1852 when it was purchased by the Commercial Gas Co. Lighting contracts were obtained in Limehouse, Whitechapel and Mile End. Offers to purchase the works of the Poplar GLCo and the Ratcliff GLCo came to nothing, although after the 1829 Act was obtained, the Co extended its area of supply to districts previously supplied by the Imperial GC and the chartered Gas Light and Coke Co.
After the Act of 1829, the unincorporated part of the company (known as the Provincial Co) established by Deed of Settlement operated seven stations at Norwich, Hull, Trowbridge, the Potteries, Holywell, Ayr and Clonmel in Ireland. In 1857 it was incorporated as a Joint Stock Co with Limited Liability and then in 1924 the constitution was altered by the substitution of a Memorandum and Articles of Association for the original Deed of Settlement. The headquarters of the company were originally in George Yard, Lombard St, London until 1922 when they moved to No.2, The Abbey Garden, Westminster.
The most important stations of the British GLCo were at Norwich and Hull, both purchased in 1825. The company purchased the Norwich Gas Light Company (formed in 1820) which provided oil-gas and operated from a works in the parish of St Stephen. It also established a major coal gas works at Hull, on land at Sculcoates. In 1830 the Company decided to convert the Norwich works to coal gas manufacture and to expand to a new site at Bishop Bridge. By 1853 another new works was completed at St Martin-at-Palace (See EA:NOU). In 1883 the BGLCo erected chemical works at Great Yarmouth, the raw by-products being conveyed from Norwich by river. The Hull works operated alongside the works of the Kingston upon Hull GLCo and later the East Hull Gas Co (See NE:HUB). The works at Ayr were sold to a private owner in 1832 and the undertaking at Clonmel was sold in 1895. The station at the Staffordshire Potteries was sold to Stoke on Trent Borough Council in 1922.
The British GLCo was unique in that it was not only an undertaker in its own right but it also eventually had a controlling interest in 21 gas companies. By 1949 it had 18 subsidiary undertakings in the Eastern GB as well as operating 10 stations of its own, including Aylsham (1933), Bletchley(Fenny Stratford) (1928), Brandon (1935), Chatteris (1938), Diss (1935), Downham Market (1932), Harleston (1928), Mildenhall (1936), Norwich (1857), Thetford, and Wickham. (See EA:EA). Under the Gas Act 1948, special arrangements were made to transfer local undertakings to the relevant Area Gas Board concerned. The records of the Limited Co were retained within the Eastern Gas Board.