The Blantyre Gas Company Ltd opened for business at Stonefield Road in 1864. The annual AGM was held in July each year.
On 18th February 1875, an advert was placed looking for contractors to build a new tank, expanding the capacity. In the 1890s, the company invited tenders for the removal of byproducts of gas like tar and ammoniacal liquors. In 1896, it was agreed by their board to reduce the price of gas from 4s 2d to 3s 9d. In 1900, Mr. A.B Maxwell of High Blantyre was secretary.
Gas was used primarily to light some of Blantyre’s main roads and it was some time after that it was taken into houses. The gas was more expensive than in other local towns, and it often led to instances of people tampering with equipment. Between the 13th December 1896 and 26th May 1897, Mr Peter Clark of Larkfield admitted to stealing almost 4000 cubic feet of gas from the Blantyre Gas Company after removing the meter entirely!
The premises were next to Allotment Gardens on Stonefield Road, not far from Dixon’s Rows. A crane was located in the yard, as was a weighing machine and offices. To the North and East sides were 3 large tanks, but by the 1930s, only 2 remained.
Around the time of the First World War, shares could be bought for the company at around £1 each. Shortages were also common, advising residents to look to coal, when certain times of demand meant that no gas stocks remained.
On the evening of Saturday 5th November 1921, Stonefield Road, Blantyre was the scene of great alarm, fear and excitement owing to a tremendously, disastrous gas explosion that occurred at the Gasworks. Mr Robert Scott, the gas manager told of how the explosion was heard for up to 10 miles away and that a container with over 20,000 cubic feet of gas, was empty. Nearby houses were damaged, but nobody was hurt. A later inquest found the incident to be accidental. No proof could be provided that any workmen had been smoking or were negligent. Similarly the co-incidence of Bonfire Night being the date of the accident may have been connected, but again no proof was evident.
The accident prompted a look again at this technology and shortly after, Electricity started to replace gas street lamps in the 1920’s throughout Blantyre. However, gas lights were known to exist and remain functional in some of Blantyre’s streets until as late as the early 1960s.
Gas ruptures happened on occasion, mostly from old equipment and pipes. On 23rd August 1933 at Baird’s Rows, a family were overcome by gas, but survived. It was later found pipes were leaking.
The company was taken over by the local authority, Lanark County Council, Middle Ward Committee in May 1925.
A block of 6 houses, known as “The Gas Works Row” was situated adjacent to the north of the yard gates on Stonefield Road. Built around 1880, they were partially demolished during the Second World War, leaving just 3 existing for some years post WW2. By the end of the war, all the remaining large circular gas tanks had been demolished.
The premises at Stonefield Road were subsequently used as a garage by Letham’s Bus Company. The office building for both the former Gas works, and subsequent Lethams garage was demolished in 2005.
Today, it is the ground of a partially completed housing estate, with 2 new brick homes abandoned in 2010 and 2011. It was rumoured that the ground in this location is environmentally contaminated or that the previous builder was liquidated, but in March 2016, the housing development started again, with all permissions to progress in place.