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through the door

heated coal rose to the exhauster house, where it was pushed through condenser towers to remove the tar products and then washed in a scrubber tower. It then went into purifiers filled with an earth -like substance which removed sulphur. This was turned over at regular intervals until it was saturated and needed replacing, releasing the familiar 'rotten egg' smell, which Storringtonians knew so well! The clean gas was then passed through the station meter and into two large gasholders, one holding 44,000 cu.ft and the other 19,000 cu.ft., from where it could be supplied through the station governor to the consumers. As demand increased, the capacity of the little gas works was stretched. The foreman recalled the Christmas when he watched anxiously as the gas- holders sank lower and lower until, just when he thought that emergency action would be needed, the Christmas dinners came out of the ovens and saved the situation! Coal is a rich source of products other than energy, and the local gasworks sold the coke which was raked out of the ovens after the coal had yielded its gas, and tar which was bought by the bucketful to weatherproof fences, sheds, weatherboarding and privies.

Last Days of Coal and Gas. Nationalisation took place in May 1948, and the works became the

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Local History 23

Gas Lamp in Storrington High St c.1905 Courtesy of West Sussex County Council Library Service

property of the South Eastern Gas Board. On the 10th November 1958 the Engineer of the Sussex Division wrote formally to the Storrington Gasworks: C f rhr t

ute o m e oadm dtd 1t ae 0 otld wrsok. In 1962, part of 'the works' site was sold to

the Hanover Housing Association and flats were built on the site.

Natural Gas. In August 1970, Storrington was converted to natural gas and pollution diminished considerably. The 'rotten egg' smell was no longer apparent and the effluent which used to tip directly into the little River Stor no longer polluted the stream. The installation of natural gas involved laying pipes across the Downs through the fields, to a pressure reduction point in Greyfriars Lane. This small grass and flag-stoned area contains all of the 'works' underground and, like the route of the pipeline, is invisible in a beautiful area. The two gasholders, landmarks which Storrington people had lived with for a hundred years, were gone. It has not been recorded how long it took Mr Mant's company to build their works and install the street Iightinq and domestic supply from scratch, but North Sea Gas was brought to Storrington in three weeks, and the changeover from Town Gas to Natural Gas was achieved in one day - a credit to the planning and engineering that went into it.

There are still several old cast iron lamp posts to be found in unexpected corners of Storrington. A very beautiful gas lamp was installed in the centre of the square to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee but, sadly, this did not survive.

Full article originally published in Storrington & District Museum’s ‘Past Times’ newsletter. Visit the Museum at The Old School, School Lane, Storrington RH20 01903 740188 . Open; Wed, Sat & Sun 10am-4pm Museum Christmas fun day Sat 10th December.

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