Gas was the first utility service in the town,
established by a local Board of Health in 1862. There was
no public water supply, and sewage was removed from private
closets by the night-soil men until after Bollington Urban
District Council (BUDC) was created in 1894. The mains water
supply from a bore hole at Rainow was established in 1899,
and the sewage system in 1906 with a works at Lowerhouse.
left is Henry Froggatt, for a long time the Superintendent
of the gasworks.
Some of the mills, such as Oak Bank
mill, had their own gas production units but these
would have been entirely in-house facilities producing
gas for both processing ('gassing'*) and lighting, and
quite incapable of providing a public service. The public
gas supply was provided from a gasworks in Princess
Street (parallel to the lower end of Grimshaw
Lane). This works contained a retort where the fuel
coal was heated to drive off the gas, known as 'coal gas'
or 'town gas'. What remained was coke, which was a valuable
energy source in its own right, and tar, and both could
be sold. Various processes were used to purify the gas,
before it was pumped into one of two gas holders to be
stored - the two big round objects towards the bottom of
the picture. The public supply came from these gas holders
and was distributed through the town in pipes laid under
This service continued until the 1960/70s, when 'natural
gas' arrived, piped from wells beneath the North Sea. Once
the town gas was no longer required only the gas holders
would have been retained to provide local storage, but these,
too, became unused and the gasworks was demolished. Houses
were built on the site in the early 2000s, Spinners
gasworks suffered serious interruption when the Macclesfield
Canal breached at Tinkers Clough during the night of
29 February 1912. There was considerable flooding of the
gasworks and the retort fires were extinguished.
Gasworks require a continuous supply of large quantities
of coal. Bollington gasworks was located adjacent to the
railway goods yard, and yet there was no direct connection
between the two. Coal would have been unloaded from railway
wagons into horse carts and taken more than a quarter mile
via Grimshaw Lane, Henshall Road, and Princess Street, to
be unloaded no more than 100m from the railway yard!
There was almost certainly some gas powered street lighting
in Bollington, because this was one of the first uses for
gas in this country. However, we would like to know of any
evidence of this. There used to be a frame to support a gas
lamp on a house at the top of Grimshaw Lane, but that has
gone now. There is just one remaining gas street lamp in
use locally - the gas lamp outside the half-timbered house
at the road junction in the middle of Pott
Shrigley. This ancient lamp is retained and always lit!
* Gassing - a gas flame was used in the cotton mills to
burn off the whiskers from the cotton thread to produce a
cleaner and more shiny product.
gas from coal
My thanks go to those who researched and discovered the history
that is presented in these pages. Please
read the full acknowledgement of their remarkable achievement.
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