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3 1 c m
actual image size: 32cm x 23cm


"Coloured drawing by Cliff H Rowe, showing two men cleaning retorts at a gasworks. The use of coal gas for lighting, heating and cooking dates back to 1792, when William Murdoch installed gas lighting in his cottage and office in Redruth, Cornwall. Coal gas was produced by heating coal inside airtight retorts using a coke furnace. After purification, the gas was collected and stored in large gas holders, or 'gasometers', until required. The development of gas lighting was important for the Industrial Revolution as it enabled factories to operate for longer hours, particularly in the winter months. The spread of gas street lighting also led to a significant reduction in crime. Coal gas continued to be produced in Britain for domestic use until the 1950s."

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© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library

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