The Tottenham and District Gas Company suffered substantial damage during the Second World War – but never once did it fail to supply gas. Even during the heaviest airborne attack, when two large gasholders at the Willoughby Lane gasworks were put out of action and a gasholder at Waltham Cross was destroyed, the team carried on resolutely, maintaining a supply of gas..
During the Second World War, the company actually increased gas production by 22 per cent, including almost doubling gas destined for industrial use. The large works in Willoughby Lane produced 8 million gallons of benzol motor fuel and 1 million gallons of toluol, a raw material essential in manufacture of explosives.
Chief Engineer, William Hawkyard, wrote in the company’s centenary brochure: “These were long weary days of the war and particularly hectic time of the blitz when we were harried both day and night. I look back and think of the team work and resolution of the employees, workmen and staff alike, who were never daunted, and kept gas going out under what we still think were impossible conditions.”
London’s Regional Gas Centre, a mutual aid association set up by the capital’s gas companies to co-ordinate civil defence, was to officially record 12,226 broken gas pipelines during the Second World War, of which 407 were large 24-inch trunk gas mains.
We’ve worked with Professor Russell Thomas, chairman of the history panel of the Institution of Gas Engineers and Managers, to produce this special series of stories for #VEDay75