How Runcorn reluctantly slipped out
of the Dark Ages

Dark streets became a thing of the past for Runcorn in 1837, when the Runcorn Gas Light Companv was formed. Moves to adopt the Lighting and Watching Act began in June 1836, but not all people were in favour of lighting the streets.

Opponents to the scheme wanted a poll of views, but it appears not to have been taken. Another meeting was held in October, 1838, when the resolution was again passed, and another poll demanded.

The number of rateptyers eligible to vote was 1,026. The number who voted in favour of street lighting was 584 - with only one against.

In November a number of peope were elected Inspectors for carrying out the plans. They resolved that the lamp-posts should be made of English oak, 10 feet-six inches long, eight inches square at the base tapering to four inches at the top and of an octagonal shape.

The first Act for supplying the town with gas was passed in 1837. It was called: "An Act for lighting with gas the town of Runcorn, otherwise called Higher Runcorn and Lower Runcorn, and also the township or chapelry of Halton, both in Runcorn in the county of Chester."

'I'his Act empowered the company to raise capital totalling £8,000, but this figure was subsequently increased to £12,000.

The Act was repealed in 1847 on the passing of a second Act, providing for the "better lighting," of the town and extending the limits to cover Runcorn, Halton, Astmore, Norton, Weston, Weston Point, Clifton, Widnes, Widnes-with-Appleton and Widnes, Docks.

In 1838 there were only 93 gas consumers in the town, and in 1848 the revenue of the company was a mere £1,475. By 1885 the company was supplying 300 public and private lamps, while the total number of consumers had risen to 1,228, with an income of £8,804.

The company began operations with a small gasholder with a capacity of 14,000 cubic feet which was superseded in 1847 by one of 75,000 cu. feet. In 1885 the capacity rose to 160,000 cu. feet.

Another important change in Runcorn followed the formation of the Runcorn Improvement Commissioners who immediately ordered a survey of the town . From this the Runcorn Improvement Act was passed for, amongst other things, "better paving, watching, cleansing and sanitary conditions”, as well as for “regulating the markets” in Runcorn and Halton.

The first task of the Commissioners was to order the building of a Market Hall which was erected in Bridge Street and completed in 1856, at a cost of £1,800..