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8 July 1861 South Australian Gas Company

 8 July 1861 South Australian Gas Company

On 8 July 1861 22 people met in White’s Rooms in King William Street and agreed that it was ‘desirable to proceed with the undertaking called the South Australian Gas Company’. The prospectus of the new company had been issued in May, but by July only 943 of the original 6000 shares had been sold. However, the promoters who included some of Adelaide’s leading businessmen - Henry Ayers, Arthur Blyth and George P Harris - were confident that the venture would be a success. In fact Adelaide lagged behind the eastern cities in the provision of this utility for Sydney had gas lighting as early as 1841, Melbourne turned on the lights on 1 January 1856 and Hobart’s Gas Company was incorporated in 1854. The next step was to gain the approval of parliament and this was achieved on 29 November, despite the opposition of George Fife Angas who apparently disliked the use of gas. The Bill gave the Gas Company the right to distribute gas throughout the metropolitan area within a radius of 12 kilometres of the GPO. The building of the gas works on land acquired at Bowden proceeded and on 23 December 1862 the foundation stone of the ‘great’ chimney was laid by Ayers and the furnaces were lit for the first time on 30 May 1863.

Peter Donovan and Noreen Kirkman, The Unquenchable Flame, Wakefield Press, 1986, pp12, 17-25.

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