With Centrica’s origins in the 1812 Gas Light and Coke Company (GLCC), our people played a pivotal role fighting on the front line and fueling the war effort at home. We therefore wanted to remember the heroic efforts of our people and especially, the 950 people from the company who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Fighting on the front line
When war erupted over Europe, thousands of our GLCC colleagues swapped the safety of their civic lives and devoted themselves to active duty.
An employee who went by the initials C.H.R and served in the British Expeditionary Force, wrote to colleagues saying: “We have had a pretty rough time since we have been out here... Some of the sights we have seen have been awful – the dead and wounded, and houses ransacked, looted, and wrecked by the Germans; but the space will not permit me to describe them all.”
The GLCC understood the challenges its people were facing and wanted to care for them as much as possible, supporting their families and those returning home injured or disabled.
L. Battery served in the British Expeditionary Force and wrote to the GLCC saying: “I have only just learned that The Gas Light and Coke Company are making my wages up week by week to my wife. It gives me great relief and contentment of mind to know my wife and little ones are as well provided for as when I am at home.”
Fueling the war effort at home
The GLCC was doing a job of significant national importance. They expanded operations and efficiency to meet the rising demand for energy to fuel wartime production and extracted by-products used for plethora of purposes - from paint for planes to fertilizers for farming.
Consequently, the enemy focused on disrupting production, attacking the GLCC’s collier ships and energy facilities.
Captain R. L. Jones of the ‘S.S Halo’ collier ship said: “You’ve not only got to dodge the mines. You’ve got to keep out of the way of those Nazi planes…on my last trip but one Hitler came out from Whitby and dropped six bombs only 50 yards astern of us…But we keep bringing in the coal. It will take more than Hitler to stop us doing that. And it’s good to know, when we do safely dock, that every cargo of coal we deliver to the piers is another blow at Hitler”.
Brave engineers worked tirelessly to repair gas works targeted by bombs and re-connected thousands of miles of mains to power millions of factories, hospitals and homes.
A consumer from West Kensington said: “When my gas came on yesterday to a renewed good pressure, I was amazed, knowing the appalling conditions you have had to face...So filled with admiration am I at the bravery and devotion your staff must have shown, that I feel impelled to write…Indeed, London feels that things cannot be really bad while the essential services carry on, and your staff must be doing incalculable good in keeping morale high”.
Centrica Media Relations: +44 (0)800 107 7014
About the Gas Light and Coke Company
The Company was incorporated by Royal Charter in 1812 and became the largest gas company in the world. It was the original company that British Gas and Centrica descended. The company eventually became nationalised under the 1948 Gas Act. Following the 1972 Gas Act, the British Gas Corporation was created which merged all of Boards together and later become privatised. Centrica plc was formed in 1997 following a demerger from British Gas plc and BG plc.