The “Preston Gas Light Company” commenced operations on February 20th 1816, thereby conferring on Preston the distinction of being the first provincial town in the country to install public gas lighting. By mid-century no fewer than 1,000 public gas lamps were in use. The founder of the Preston Gas Light Company, The Reverend Joseph Dunn of St Wilfrid’s Church (near Winckley Square) was a pioneer in the use of coal gas and, according to tradition, kept a brilliant gas-light flaring night and day at the corner of his presbytery in Fishergate even before St Wilfrid’s Church was completed in 1793.
Dominating the entire eastern-side of Glover Street, Avenham Lane, is the huge wall of the “Preston Gas Light Company". This photograph was taken c1946.
Mr John Rofe, the first manager of the Preston Gas Works, lived at number 31 Winckley Square. During the tenancy of the Addison family, number 11 Winckley Square became the first house in Preston to be lit by gas. The Parish Church of Preston, St. John the Evangelist, was the first church ever to have been lighted by gas.
Despite the presence of the near by gas works Avenham Lane still enjoyed a sleepy, tranquil atmosphere in the mid-nineteenth century. This photograph, taken from near Glover Street in 1862, shows the west end of Avenham Lane and the entrance to Avenham Terrace. The Institution for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge is in the centre, behind the trees.