In 1865, a small gas works (Norwood Gasworks), on a site three quarters of a mile south-east of the present works was bought out when, in 1868, the Brentford Gas Company bought 171/2 acres of land for £6,325 between the Paddington branch of the Grand Junction Canal and the Great Western Railway. On December 4th, 1869 the first gas was produced. The first gas holder had a capacity of 480,000 cubic feet. In 1887 another thirteen acres of land were purchased. Rates payable, 1894, £10,321. During the First World War 18 pounder shells were manufactured in the workshops. Mr J. S. Thorman was Station Engineer when amalgamation took place with Gas Light and Coke Company, taking the place of Mr Busby. In 1896 gas capacity was up to 17 million cubic feet a day.
In 1929-30 the 305 ft. high waterless gas holder was constructed. In 1931 the public were allowed to the top on payment of 6d (2½) in aid of Southall Hospital. Nationalisation in 1949 found the works under the North Thames Gas Board and, by introducing a new type of plant, a peak day’s output could be up to 175 million cubic feet a day.
The works had their own brass band which made its first appearance at the Queen Victoria’s Jubilee Party held in Southall Park 29th June, 1887. There was always a works committee with workers’ participation. Who could possibly imagine that, by 1978, the whole of this splendid works would be standing derelict, closure due to North Sea Gas. When working to full capacity it employed over 300 men. The works closed in 1973, after which the film industry has made use of the site for location scenes.
What was known as the Gas Factory Straight (road) was constructed via The Crescent, parallel with the railway for about half a mile to the works. This was a cobbled road. On the right hand side was the Works Sports Fields, and two houses. These were occupied by two families who gave long years of service to the company. Mr Stephenson and Mr Neighbour. Dave Neighbour (54 years service) was born there. The North Thames Gas Board still retain a transport yard with exit in Beaconsfield Road.
In 1877 an old soap factory on the right hand side of Havelock Road, near the canal, was taken over by Martin Brothers Pottery, who came from Fulham. Four brothers, Charles, Walter, Edwin and Wallace. Their pottery has become famous all over the world. They had a showroom in Brownlow Street, London. This was destroyed by fire in 1910. The brothers gradually died and very little work was completed after 1915, and completely finished in 1923. The fountain in the Manor House Grounds is an example of their work. The works were burned down in 1942. Now an up-to-date council estate is on the site, built in 1976-77.
In 1877 Abbott Brothers started a small factory on grounds attached to Fairlawn Hall. The entrance was in the High Street. They were, at that time, specialists in beehives but, later, made small cabinets and hospital furniture. They had a small showroom and stores on the left hand side of a gate with a road leading down to the workshops and, on the right of this, were the offices where the timekeeper used to ring a bell for starting time. All orders were delivered by horse and van. In 1982 the works are still there but at the rear with entrance from Shrubbery Road, and offices still in the High Street, and known as Abbess Limited. The original site in the High Street is where the fire station is now. (More of the Abbott family later.)