Posts Tagged ‘gas’

At the Lighthouse

May 28, 2015

What! Has Market Lavington, in the middle of landlocked Wiltshire got a lighthouse? Well of course, it all depends on what you mean by a lighthouse. If you mean a tall tower with a flashing lamp at the top used as an aid to shipping, then of course it hasn’t got one. What it has got is a house and works where acetylene was once made. The Hopkins brothers who owned this business called their property ‘The Lighthouse’. Of course, acetylene was made as a fuel for producing a bright light.

We have come across the business before (click here). But this picture of the premises has not been seen on this blog before.

The Lighthouse, Market Lavington in the 1920s

The Lighthouse, Market Lavington in the 1920s

The building we see is on Church Street. The roof we see at the right hand edge is on an outbuilding at the former pub, the Volunteer Arms. We are looking at numbers ten and eight.

The man in the photo, possibly one of the Hopkins brothers, is standing under a sign which tells us what the business was.


There’s enough to see quite clearly that we have acetylene gas engineers.

There was a time when the gas was piped around the village but we believe that finished in the 1930s.

In black and white photos these buildings, now domestic houses, look to have a pronounced pattern in the brickwork. Modern day photos show there are different coloured bricks used but it is a lot less striking.


Lavington Gasworks Again

September 26, 2010

Just a couple of days ago we showed a picture of a Lavington Gas Works stop cock. A search through our photo archive revealed a super picture of the ‘Lighthouse’ – the place where Hopkins Brothers made their acetylene gas for sale to the village.

"The Lighthouse" on Church Street - where Hopkins brothers made acetylene - a photo at Market Lavington Museum

 This is a part of the terrace between what is now The Rectory and what was The Volunteer Arms on the corner with Parsonage Lane. The entrance with the hefty iron girder over it is no longer there.

The sign over the Lighthouse door

The sign over the door clearly says ‘GAS ENGINEERS’ and may well say ACETYLENE in front of that.

The vehicle parked outside the works is a business vehicle.

The gas works business vehicle? And is that a Mr Hopkins?

The vehicle is captioned ‘Lavington Acetylene Gas Works. We do not know who the man is but one guesses he’s a member of the Hopkins family.

If you can help us to identify this man, or the vehicle, or can tell any tales of the gas supply in Lavington then please contact the curator.

Lavington Gas Works

September 24, 2010

There won’t be many people in or around Market Lavington who would know that gas had ever been piped to properties. But the Hopkins family, who had an extensive empire of business interests, included piped gas in their portfolio of products. This was in the early years of the 20th century. The gas they had on offer was acetylene so we can only guess that at the Church Street property which they called ‘The Lighthouse’ they had a plant where water was dripped onto calcium carbide to produce the flammable gas which was suited to lighting.

There are few remnants of this former service although some High Street properties still carry a square bracket where a street light hung.

In Market Lavington Museum we have a street stopcock cover. Acetylene was moderately dangerous and it must have been an essential to be able to turn off the supply.

Lavington gas works stopcock at Market Lavington Museum

 There are village stories about the installation of this service. One tells of an agreement in principle for the Hopkins to supply gas, but without an agreement on price. After the infrastructure was in place an agreement on cost of the gas was not reached and the gas was never supplied.

No doubt many in Market Lavington would be delighted to have a piped supply now. At the museum, we’d be delighted to know more about this old gas supply.

Hopkins (and companies)

April 6, 2010

A small metal label in Market Lavington Museum carries the message, ‘Hopkins & Co. Acetylene generator makers and lighting engineers. The Lighthouse, Market Lavington’.

Hopkins & Co. acetylene label - early 20th century

Several buildings in Market Lavington have large square brackets on the wall (The Workman’s Hall for one) which once held gas lamps, no doubt supplied with gas by the Hopkins family.

The Hopkins ran a number of businesses in Market Lavington. Generating acetylene gas and supplying it was one thing they did. The family also were builders’ merchants as well as builders.

The Museum’s little copper plate, some 8cm across, is one artefact amongst several we have. What the Hopkins called ‘The Lighthouse’ we now know as ‘8, Church Street’. The Hopkins main shop was next to what is now the Drummer Boy pub. There were also premises where Milsoms Court now stands.

Some of the Hopkins family are buried in the Drove Lane Cemetery. A click here will lead you to information about it.