Gas company worker, 1933.
© NMeM / Daily Herald Archive / Science & Society Picture Library
A photograph of a stoker feeding fuel into the retorts at Beckton Gas Works, East London, taken by James Jarche for the Daily Herald newspaper on 4 August, 1933. Giant retorts produced gases by heating coal to high temperatures. This coal gas was supplied throughout London to provide heating, lighting and power. The proces also produced coal tar and sulphur - by-products used by the chemical industry. Owned by Simon Adams Beck, the Beckton Gas Works were the largest in Europe when they opened in 1870. The works closed in 1967 when supplies of natural gas from the North Sea reduced manufactured coal gas' commercial viability.