This record is held by National Gas Archive

Details of SE:SOM
Reference: SE:SOM

This collection includes administration records; finance records; legal records; estate and property records; architectural drawings, building records; technical records; incident records; security and defence records; personnel records; retail records; transport records; miscellaneous records; coal and shipping records

Date: [1816] -1961
Held by: National Gas Archive, not available at The National Archives
Language: English

South Metropolitan Gas Company

Phoenix Gas Light and Coke Company

Physical description: 37 series
  • Greenwich, London
  • Lewisham, London
  • Southwark, London
  • Lambeth, London
  • Wandsworth, London
  • Gas industry
Administrative / biographical background:

The South Metropolitan Gas Company was founded in 1829 and incorporated by Act of Parliament in 1842. The manager was Thomas Livesey, appointed Chief officer in 1839, until his death in 1871 when his son, George, took over as Engineer and Secretary. The first works were at Bankside which had been built in 1814 and sold to the South London GC (later the Phoenix GLCC) in 1821. In 1829, the South Metropolitan GC was formed and selected a site for works adjoining the Grand Surrey Canal on the eastern side of Old Kent Rd. The works were completed by 1833 and the company's offices added in 1834. Small extensions were made in 1843 and mains extended. Barges were acquired to bring in coal and by 1856 there were seven gasholders on the site. After several approaches, the Phoenix GC finally amalgamated with the South Metropolitan GC following an earlier merge with the Surrey Consumers GC in 1879. With these amalgamations the South Metropolitan GC gained gasworks at Rotherhithe St (opened 1851), Vauxhall, Bankside and Thames St, Greenwich. Old Kent Rd had expanded from 3 to 36 acres by 1880 and further land was sought for future expansion. A further 96 acres was acquired in 1881 at East Greenwich, on the marshes opposite Blackwall, and under the direction of George and Frank Livesey the largest site of the company was constructed. These works were opened on 30 July 1887. South Metropolitan GC also took over the Equitable GC and the Consumers GC, both in Woolwich, in 1885. The Woolwich works were closed down in 1887. Following labour disputes and unionisation in 1889, George Livesey introduced Co-partnership to the employees of the company and this idea of profit sharing was to be adopted by many other GCs. Sir George Livesey died in October 1908. The company continued to expand and by 1920 there were tar works at Ordnance Wharf and chemical works at Phoenix Wharf and East Greenwich. The original works of the Phoenix GC at Bankside were sold in 1938. On nationalisation in 1949 the undertaking became part of the Metropolitan Division of SEGB.


The Phoenix Gas Light and Coke Company was established by Act of Parliament in 1824. The first works were situated at Bankside in Southwark and had originally been built for the South London Gas Co. who sold the site to the Phoenix in 1824. The Vauxhall works were purchased from the Southwark and Vauxhall Water Company in 1847 and were situated between Vauxhall Bridge and the River Effra. These works were extended west of the river in 1864. Rivalry between the Phoenix and the South Metropolitan Gas Co. developed over fifty years and several attempts were made to amalgamate the two companies. Sir Corbet Woodall was Engineer at both sites between 1869 and 1880. Finally in 1880 the South Metropolitan Gas Co. absorbed the Phoenix and acquired the two additional gasworks at Bankside and Vauxhall.

Link to NRA Record:

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