Parlington Hall :: Victorian Gas Meter

The header picture shows most likely the final reading given by the old Colonel's son Frederick Richard to the Garforth Gas Company, before they closed down Parlington. How can I make such a bold statement you may ask? Well here is an old gas meter, that has been lying at Lotherton, rusting away in an old store room! I had seen it before, but recently was able to get a shot of it as one of the Lotherton fireplaces was being restored in that same room when I visited. After a brief chat about the work of reclamation with Athony [he was doing the reclamation work] we looked at the old meter. and I took a few photographs.

88,600 was the final reading! Obviously the gas priced in 100 cu ft. What the rate was I don't know but nothing like the horrendous amount we pay today! Well at least we have gas, at that time only the very wealthy were able to afford such luxuries in their homes. Parlington had originally been supplied with gas from their own plant which was situated adjacent to the Gamekeeper's cottage! The plant produced gas from the mines at Garforth, but was later superceded by gas provided by the local gas works in Garforth. [I haven't discovered the wherabouts of that yet.] Naturally after Parlington was supplied from an external source they had to pay for it like anyone else, fortunately not by a coin meter but by a state of the art gas meter manufactured by Alder and MacKay, of New Grange Works, Edinburgh, Scotland.

Gas Meter by Alder & MacKay

1864 Gas Meter

Here is a full view of the old meter. You may ask how can I be sure that the meter is from Parlington, well the answer is simple and I'm sure you have got there already, there is no gas at Lotherton, never was, but the development in the late nineteenth and then early twentieth century by Colonel Frederick Richard Gascoigne, the old Colonel's son ensured that the house did get the full benefit of electricity, something that was never installed in Parlington!

Therefore I think it fair to make the bold jump to asserting that the meter came from Parlington; why? Well that's another mystery, except to say that perhaps the Gascoignes paid for it to be installed and felt they should take it, in the event never using it. Had Lotherton been supplied with gas and this meter used, it would undoubtably have been replaced and we would never have known anything about the gas supply at Parlington! Funny how these small detective stories unfold.

Turning to the meter itself, it is interesting in stating at the bottom that the capacity is 3Lt, metric was already encroaching! But like many things British and American the rest of the figures are Imperial. The writing around the top half of the circular centre plate stating Capacity at 1 revolution 11ft and in the bottom half Quantity per hour 18 cubic feet To the top right is a red seal inscribed GR 11 [George V 1911]

Seal GR 11

1864 Gas Meter, seal

The seal is unbroken and is identical to a further seal on the rear face. The brass fittings for the input and output are still smooth to the touch and can be easily unscrewed, even after all this time. Also the two pipe ends have been plugged with corks! Sensible, and suggestive that it was taken with the view to being re-used. Having discovered this little gem, I was equally impressed to discover its sibling at the National Museum of Scotland on the Internet; how great it is! Do look it up here at GracesGuide. The meter is recorded at the Scottish Museum as from 1854, whereas the examples are both stated as 17 Dec 1864 on the centre plate, and obviously courtesy of the seal still in use up to 1911 and again at the point of retirement from Parlington it had powered the gas mantles with 88600 cubic feet of gas, no doubt assisting Isabella to write her draft manuscript for her book on wood turning. And enabled the old Colonel to keep abreast of the colonial wars courtesy of The Times!

There is a picture of a later Dry Gas meter from around 1900 at this location, it has a coin prepayment slot, but I mention it as the internal mechanism is revealed by the transparent front plate, which must be similar to what is inside our meter!

Comments from Readers

One of the great things about the web is that if you post something that others enjoy they can add to the content with their own take on things. After this article was written a friend from Canada contacted me and pointed me in the direction of the Gas Museum in Leicester, he enclosed this picture he had taken whilst visiting the place, it shows a range of Alder and MacKay meters including at least one that is like the find [Centre left in a blue/grey colour] mentioned here. Click on the picture below to visit the web site of the National Gas Museum.

Leicester Gas Museum

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