|Evening Telegraph, Saturday, February 16, 1985
A whiff of the past
These pictures will bring back memories of the old Shirley Road gas works in Rushden which were closed about 30 years ago. The pictures have been loaned to us by Mr Leslie Gedney, of Upper Queen Street, Rushden, who took them in the early fifties when he worked at the gas works as stores assistant.
In those days there were several by-products from the production of gas, including coke, tar and ammonia. Mr Gedney's pictures show people buying coke at the works, which he remembers was sold for the princely sum of 2d a bag!
Another "by-product" was the pervasive smell of sulphur. It was an old saying that a child with a chest complaint should be put in his pram and taken "twice round the gas works" for therapy.
The Emgas records library in Leicester has documentation of the Rushden and Higham Ferrers' District Gas Company dating back to 1894, but later it became known as the Rushden District Gas Company.
The gas works was reconstructed in 1946, and at the time was considered one of the most modern in the East Midlands. Nationalisation of the gas industry in 1949 saw the amalgamation of hundreds of little local gas companies throughout the country, and Rushden became part of the Northampton district of the East Midlands Gas Board.
Today, of course, our gas is the responsibility of East Midlands Gas Emgas but there must be many people who have fond memories of the days of the Rushden and District Gas Company.