London: W. Houstoun, 1834. 8vo. (230 x 120). 8 pp., original self wrappers, unbound. Chipped and very fragile on account of the paper quality. Item #2802
No surviving copy of this remarkable pamphlet is recorded in OCLC or COPAC, not surprising given that the Gude's "Letter" was printed on what seems to be the thinnest possible English paper.
The text in the present pamphlet appears to have been completely overlooked by historians of the economics of petroleum distribution and consumption during England's Industrial Revolution. It is a diatribe against gas monopoly by Richard Gude, a governor of the Chartered Gas Company from 1823 to 1832. Gude appears to have broken with them in favor of their competitors, of whom the Equitable Gas Company and London Gas Company are prominently mentioned here. The pamphlet rails against the "evils" of the monopoly which had neutralized the free market, and "the arbitrary provisions to which consumers of gas are subject, under some of the private acts of Parliament of the Metropolitan Gas Companies, and the advantages derivable from competition."
The Chartered Gas Company was incorporated by an Act of Parliament in 1810 and was granted by the Prince Regent in 1812. "The Chartered Gas Light and Coke Company was the first gas undertaking in the world, concerned chiefly, until the 1880s, with the production of gas for lighting purposes. [...] The origins of the gas industry lay with the discovery of coal gas in the early 18th century. Gas lighting for homes, buildings and streets was pioneered by William Murdoch, a Scottish engineer, who with his pupil Samuel Clegg of Manchester and John Malam of Hull, designed and built gas works for mills and factories from 1800 to enable them to be lit. They worked with entrepreneurs such as F.A. Winsor to secure financial backing. Winsor's ideal was to have a central gas works making gas for illumination in every town and city in the country. Samuel Clegg joined the Chartered Company and constructed the first operational public gas works in Peter Street, Horseferry Road, Westminster, which began producing coal gas in September 1813. Developments at Westminster were followed by the rapid expansion of gas works and their Companies across London and other cities and large towns in England and Wales. By 1830, there were 200 gas Companies, by 1850 there 800 gas Companies, 13 of which were in London, and by 1860 there were nearly 1,000 gas Companies." (Source: National Archives, Finding Aid for the Chartered Gas Light and Coke Company papers, which consist of only 1.75 linear feet).