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22 Local History A Smell of

Rotten Eggs Joan Ham describes the history of street lighting in Storrington

The first mains service in Storrington was gas, made on a site in the centre of the High Street. It was over a hundred years ago that Arthur Mant, a solicitor who had made his home and started a practice in Storrington, started a small company to erect and run a gas-works. The West Sussex Gazette reported on 31 October 1861 that Storrington was the smallest town in the country to be lit by gas and; “

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peetd or so s ad hue lu iae n a a ht hs f rvr pt te od lms ad ade, nt ol gr tvl, bt lt r ly i t h sa e. In 1871, the parish church was filled for

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the first gaslit service: lighting and gas heating for the winter had been installed at a cost of £59.lOs.7d, subscribed for by fifty parishioners.

The introduction of Storrington's first-ever real street lighting also introduced an inviting new target for the local vandals or, 'high-spirited young

Reward poster for information on gas lamp vandals, 1883

gentleman'. The new gas standards were shot at, used as catapult targets or deliberately extinguished after the lamplighter had done his rounds. The nuisance got so bad that Mr George French Mant (son of Arthur) brought the full weight of his Storrington Prosecuting Society (another Mant inspired organisation) down on them. The local constabulary was very new and suffered the contempt of the local gentry and a rapid turnover of village policemen reflected the low prestige and poor conditions they endured. To apprehend the culprits, 'Wanted' posters were exhibited, offering cash rewards varying from one guinea (£1.05) to five or even ten guineas for information. As the poor constable earned only 15/- per week, the extent of the nuisance is apparent.

British Gas. The first Storrington Gas Company was nearly broke after World War I, and was sold at a knock-down price. The last of the dynasty, Charles Edward Mant, received £18 for his block of shares. In 1937 the Storrington Gas Company became the British Gas Light Company who acquired the works, two cottages and the site for £11,939. IIs.7d. The process of making gas began in the retort house, where the retorts were loaded with tons of coal. This was heated by furnaces under the floor and the gas driven out of the


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