The coming of gas to Thornbury evidently generated so much excitement and controversy that a poem was composed on the subject.
Gas For Ever
My dearest of Fathers, pray may I make bold
To try my poor rhyme on a tale to be told
Well “once on a time” in a small country town
(In the County of Glou’ster) of little renown,
A “Friend” and his household as quiet as lambs
Went there to reside – and his name it was “Sams”
That the town was so dark, he thought a great pity.
For the place he’d just left was a gas-lighted city,
So, with neighbourly kindness, “Friend Thurston”, said he
To arouse these benighted ones, do let us see.
We will call a large meeting and get them to pass
A vote for the quick introduction of Gas.”
Now the folk they all went, the discussion to hear,
Some hoping to have it, some quaking with fear,
Such a stormy concern was this meeting of raters
Like Etna’s inside turned out of her craters.
One said, “Mr Chairman, I cannot endure
The smell of the gasworks – of that I’m quite sure.
Another declared, with a terrible frown.
She feared a “blow up” in their snug little town,
So this horrid “gasometer” never should come
While she could hold up either finger or thumb.
But yet, notwithstanding the flame she won’t fan,
The gasmen worked on for success to their plan,
Until after a while all the wise ones turned round,
And then came the struggle concerning the ground.
Whose field would be likely? Squire G’s would do well
But who could persuade him his meadow to sell?
No! No! He would rather grope on in the dark,
Such was his wisdom- and such his remark,
Let them seek out a place called “Gimmistool!”
Thus after a great deal more fuss and to do,
They’ve fixed on a spot, and have paid for it too,
And now the nice roads much to someone’s chagrin,
Will be quickly dug up to lay the pipes in,
And the “good time is coming” when each beau and lass
May walk down the street by the light of the Gas.
The above verse was found in the Gloucester Record Office among the papers of Mr Joseph Laver of the Thornbury Banking Company and were published in the bulletin of The Society of Thornbury Folk series 2 number 14 on June 14th 1959. It is believed to have been written by Sophia Lovegrove in the 1850’s.
It can be seen from this poem that some credit for encouraging the bringing of gas to Thornbury can be given to a local banker, as the “Sams” referred to is presumably Joseph Sams from Somerset, who in the 1861 Census was living in what is now the National Westminster Bank in the High Street.