This photograph taken in the mid 1850s is possibly the earliest photograph in existence of a gas light in a Wolverhampton street. Courtesy of Eardley Lewis.

By the late 1840s a larger works
was needed to cope with the rising demand and so in 1849 a much
larger works was built in Stafford Road. The works at Horseley
Fields continued to operate for
many years. 

The works was still producing gas
in 1866 when Queen Victoria
visited the town and it is marked on Steen and Blacket’s 1871 map of
the Borough of Wolverhampton. 

By 1901 the works appears to have closed. The gasometers are not marked on the ordnance survey
map of that date, although the buildings were still there and
probably used for some other purpose.

Balloon flights continued to be a feature at the new works. The most famous one took place on 5th September 1862 when a balloon filled with coal gas from the Stafford Road works, ascended and achieved a world altitude record of over six miles. 

The balloon was piloted by James Glaisher, a scientist, and Henry Coxwell, a balloonist.  They nearly lost their lives in the flight.  The wood cut (right) from the Illustrated London News, shows Coxwell making his last ditch attempt to release gas from the baloon, as the ballon rose ever higher and the air got ever thinner.  The attempt was successful and the balloon eventually landed near Ludlow. After the flight James Glaisher wrote: "On emerging from the cloud at 1hr 17m. we came into a flood of light, with a beautiful blue sky without a cloud above us, and a magnificent sea of cloud below, its surface being varied with endless hills, hillocks, mountain chains and many snow white masses rising from it." 

Early gas lighting in Horsefair. The large lamp on the right is above the entrance to the Old Crown pub. The landlord was S. King.

In the early 1860s John Annan from Perth, became second engineer to Mr. Proud at the Stafford Road works. 

When Proud resigned in June 1864, Annan became Chief Engineer and Manager, and economised the production of gas. As a result of this Wolverhampton became the lowest gas-rated town in Britain at this time.


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