Lambeth Gas Works, London, 1872.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Wood engraving by Gustave Dore (1832-1883) taken from 'London: a Pilgrimage', published by Grant & Co in 1872. Behind the group of exhausted-looking workers in the foreground, others can be seen stoking the fires beneath the gas retorts, sealed vesels where, at high temperatures, the coal was broken down into tar, coke and gas. From the 19th century, manufactured gas was made by the distillation of coal, predominantly for use in lighting. In 1869, the writer Blanchard Jerrold suggested a collaboration with Dore on a comprehensive portrait of London. Entitled 'London: a Pilgrimage', the book contained 180 engravings and although a commercial succes, there were criticisms that Dore had concentrated on the poverty of the city.