You are in [Places] [Gas Works] [Thomas Atkins' Proposal, June 1845]

To The Inhabitants of the Town of Hungerford.

IT is with no small degree of pleasure that I have witnessed so decided a feeling in favor of improving your Town, by lighting it with Gas, as has been manifested by you since I first introduced the subject to your notice. I think the more highly of it, as the project was started at a time not by any means favorable to its receiving so much attention and consideration as its importance necessarily required, and I was, consequently, agreeably surprised when informed of the result of Mr. astley's and Mr. B. keen's canvass amongst you for the purpose of obtaining the promise of lights. That result was such as to confirm the statement made in my Report as to the probability of there being 100 Private Lights in your Town, in the event of a Company being established. In one day, the Gentlemen above mentioned obtained the promise of 78 lights, and also obtained" the promise, (and that too without pressing the matter,) of Subscriptions to the amount of nearly one third of the Capital required in the establishment of a Company.

A Meeting of the Provisional Committee appointed to report on the necessity of establishing a Gas Company, was held at the Town-Hall, on Friday Evening last, the attendance at which also afforded another satisfactory proof of the interest displayed in favor of a Company being formed for the purposes above mentioned.

The following Resolution was passed unanimously by that Committee:—

"That this Committee having had the result of Messrs. Keen & astley's canvass submitted to them, are of opinion that it will be expedient to form a Gas and Coke Company in the Town of Hungerford, but inasmuch as such canvass has not been carried out so fully as wished, that it is considered advisable to adjourn this Meeting to the 20th day of June instant, at 6 o'clock p. m. for the purpose of more fully investigating the various points arising from the proposal, in order to come to a final decision whether or not a Company shall be formed."

I therefore think it necessary, before the Town is again canvassed, to point out to you some of the many advantages to be derived from the burning of Gas.

It is now a well known fact that Gas, properly made and sold at the price it is proposed to sell it at in your Town, is, not only very far superior in brilliancy, safety, general utility and cleanliness to any other light that can be obtained, but it is also much cheaper and of much less trouble. It is also well known that Gas may be used so as to effect a great saving in the kitchen for all the purposes of cooking ; in many Towns it has been successfully used for that and for every other purpose where light and heat have been required. The purity with which it is now made renders all apprehensions null as to its producing disagreeable smells, or other properties injurious to health, or obnoxious to the most feeble constitution. It may be introduced into shops filled with Goods most susceptible to tarnish, or into Private Apartments, without producing the least change on the surface.

The introduction of Gas into any Town, is, in a great measure, a protection to Property, and a safeguard against Fire, which is too often the fatal result of the use of Oil Lamps and Candles.

It must also be considered, (the more especially as Hungerford will shortly become an important Railway Station,) that all Towns lighted with Gas receive consideration from society generally, and are treated by the visitor and merchant as possessing some peculiar importance.

From what I had heard of your Town, I thought it possible that a Gas Company could be established with advantage to the Town, and with benefit to those who might be pleased to invest their capital in the undertaking, I accordingly instructed my Agent, Mr. culYer, to wait upon the principal Inhabitants of the Town, and having heard from him that the idea was favorably entertained, as all the Tradesmen on whom he had called had approved of the undertaking, I was induced to visit and survey the Town to get up a Report, and draw Plans and Specifications to lay before a General Meeting. In my Report I stated that I thought 100 Private Lights might be obtained, and that if the Fittings introduced were of a cheap and useful character, und well put up, the number would probably exceed 150. The average consumption of Gas of 100 lights is about 333,000 cubic feet per annum, which, if sold at eleven shillings per thousand feet, would realize £183 5s. The Public Lights I calculated at about £50 per annum, which, with the £183 5s. would make a total income of £233 5s. The expenses requisite to make a sufficient quantity of Gas for the above mentioned Public and Private Lights would be certainly not more than £127; which would leave a profit of £106 5s. to pay an Interest on the Capital invested, which cannot possibly exceed £1300. But should it be determined not to light the Town, the annual expenses of the Company would not then exceed £100, which deducted from the income derivable from the Private Lights, (without taking into consideration the Profits arising from the sale of Coke, Tar, Foul Lime, &c.) would leave sufficient to pay an interest of £6 per cent on the whole amount of capital. Eighty Private Lights with, the Public Lamps would, in fact, be quite sufficient to make the Company pay an excellent dividend.

The proposed Capital of £1300 is amply sufficient for the purchase of Land; the erection of a complete set of Works thereon ; the laying down of a suitable Main and Services where required ; the purchase of the requisite number of Meters to lend to the consumers ; the paying for the Registration, and all Law and other Expenses incurred in the formation of the Company ; and for a sufficient Stock of Coals and other Materials for working the Station.

In the event of its being determined to establish a Company, it is recommended that the proposed Capital should be raised by 130 Shares of £10 each, so as to enable each consumer to be also Shareholder and Proprietor in the concern whereby he would be entitled to all the Privileges and Emoluments of the Company, with liberty to sell or transfer his proprietorship to whom he pleased. The Company would be governed, its business transacted, and interests watched by a Committee, chosen by the Shareholders from amongst themselves. A Committee so chosen affords the best possible guarantee as to the administration of justice in the affairs of a Company: from this circumstance, combined with that of employing an experienced practical engineer to construct the Works, may be inferred the general prosperity of Gas Companies in small Towns.

Considering the circumstances so favorable to the formation of a Company, and connecting them with the lively disposition in favor of Gas for Public and Private Lights in Hungerford, there is every reason to suppose this project will surpass the sanguine expectations of its supporters.

The Plan of the Apparatus proposed to be erected is of the best construction, containing many useful improvements, (entirely my own,) both chemical and mechanical, so as to ensure to the Consumers a pure Gas, possessing all the valuable and brilliant properties hereinbefore briefly explained.

It is with pride that I aver that Ihave not yet erected any Works that have not pain an excellent Interest on the Capital invested in them.

Satisfactory Testimonials as to my ability, and the manner in which I completed the Terms of my Contracts in the Towns I have lighted, have been obtained from those places by Messrs. Matthews & Astley, Solicitors.

Mr. Culyer still remains in Hungerford, and should any person be desirous of obtaining more precise information than is contained in this address, he will feel much pleasure in communicating the same.

I beg to subscribe myself,
Your very obedient Servant,
Thos. Atkins
Gas Engineer, Bicester, Oxon.

Hungerford, June 16th 1845.

See also:

- Thomas Atkins proposal (jpg)

- Gas Works

- Walter Hall's Opposing Proposition, 8th Jan 1846

- Mr Astley supports, 12th Jan 1846

- Mr Culyer's Response, 12th Jan 1846