From coal mine to consumer - illustrated chart issued by the Gas Light & Coke Company, London, c1935
For those of us of a 'certain age' the gasworks were a part of our urban landscape - even the phrase 'round the back of the gasworks' evoking a certain dubious status as they were usually grubby (and highly polluting) places. But there was a certain fascination for me, and of course, there was the smell. The sharp smell of aromatic hydrocarbons as coal tuned to gas - and as this chart shows, a myriad of other by-products that following the early years of the gas industry had become as valubale, if not more, than the gas. This rather lovely chart shows the works flow of town gas and by-product extraction following the distillation of coal. The GL&CC were one of the world's oldest (1812) and largest gas producers - and their main works at Beckton in east London was a vast site producing gas and chemical feedstocks as seen here. Before the common use of oil many impotrant chemicals came from coal - dyes, explosives, even medicines - and the gas board produced a similar chart showing how the gasworks pervaded every aspect of 'modern' life. I must scan a copy of that school boy treasure!