INDUSTRIAL SOUTHWOLD
Public Utilities
 
9 -11 Victoria Street, Southwold, Suffolk IP18 6HZ - Tel: 01502 726097 email
 
 
 
 
 
Southwold's old water tower
In the beginning
The Sea
Natural Southwold
Fishing
Transport to Southwold
Southwold at war
Christianity in Southwold
Arts & Crafts
Holidays & Leisure
Southwold the town
Southwold Shops & Trades

 

Find out more about Southwold Industry from the booklet 'Southwold as an Industrial Town' on sale in the museum shop..

 
 
 
 

Around the latter part of the 19th and early years of the 20th centuries, Southwold was virtually self-sufficient in its public utilities. It produced and supplied its own gas from 1848. The Southwold Water Works Company got going in 1886. and The Southwold Electric Lighting Board was in business by 1899.

The Southwold Gas Light Company
The birth of the Southwold Gas Light Company was due to the vision and genius of George Edmund Child, son of the founder of the Child iron works and a 'world class' engineer. He set up the works in Station Road with £1200 in March 1848 and, by September, the town had its own street lighting. The lamp standards were from the Child family foundry in Southwold's Market Place and the fuel was piped from the gas works at the other end of town! A perfect early example of vertical integration!

 

 

Left: The Southwold Gas Light Company started marketing domestic gas appliances from its new showroom in Station Road in 1938. P2512
Right : Part of Southwold's Electricity Generating plant in 1930. P2699

Click the pictures for more

Demand grew and the original Child gasometer (the prototype for gas holders that were to pop up all over the country) was eventually outgrown. In 1906 a new storage facility was built on land off Blyth Road and another gas holder added in 1935. The firm started marketing consumer hardware from a new showroom in Station Road and, by 1947, Southwold households possessed 1015 gas cookers served by 11 miles of gas pipe.

The Southwold Gas Light Company just saw in its centenary in 1948 before being subsumed in the newly nationalised British gas industry.

The Southwold Water Works Company
Until the late 19th century, water supplies in Southwold were a matter of individual arrangement and were delivered via domestic wells and pumps.

The public Town Pump in the Market Place made by Child's Iron foundry in 1873, was our first municipal water supply. But 13 years later, an even more ambitious scheme was devised under the auspices of The Southwold Water Works Company.

In 1886, they built the town's first water tower on the Common and, to raise the water up to the tank from the well beneath, there was an ingeniously designed wind-pump sitting on top. (See picture at top left) From the tank, water was piped directly to people's homes.

The Southwold Electric Lighting Board
Southwold had its own electricity company by the end of the 19th century. The Southwold Electric Lighting Board also supplied Reydon and Walberswick. However, in 1919, the repair shop was destroyed by fire and the following year the company was acquired by Edmundson of Westminster.

Use the links below to explore the history of Southwold’s other industries.

Brewing
Hosiery and bedding manufacture
Iron founding
Milling
Public Utilities (Gas, water, electricity)
Rope making
Salt manufacture
Shops and Trades

 
 
Original Gas lamp standard by Child's foundry
Above: one of the original gas lamps made at the Child foundry and below: the top of the Town Pump in the Market Place complete with Southwold's crest and references to the town's dependence on fish.
   
     
   
     
 

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Southwold Museum & Historical Society, 9 -11 Victoria Street, Southwold, Suffolk IP18 6HZ
Tel: 01502 726097 email

A Charitable Incorporated Organisation, Registered Charity No 1159790,