One of the joys of researching in a conventional library is the unexpected. Today in Leicester University Library I came across A History of North Thames Gas – Mr Therm for those of us of a certain age. The book, and company, go back to its formation in 1810, through the massive switch over from town to natural gas and on until British Gas privatisation.

There is more. The production of town gas from coal is echoed in the story of steel production and organic chemicals, with the capture and use of byproducts.

Many of us will remember gas showrooms on the High Street with appliances manufactured in North Thames factories. The same was true of gas meters, with millions of pennies collected each week.

North Thames was also an early user of ICL computers. The book was candid about the inefficiency of billing administration a lack of planning of the computer installation. A telling comment was the switch over to IBM in the late 80s.