British Gas plc

British Gas plc

Infobox Company
company_name = British Gas
company_type = Defunct
foundation = 1986 Dissolved 1997
location =
key_people =
industry = Utilities
products = Gas
Group turnover =
operating_income =
num_employees =
parent =
subsid =
homepage = []
footnotes =

British Gas plc was formerly the monopoly gas supplier in the United Kingdom.


In the early 1900s the gas market in the United Kingdom was mainly run by county councils and small private firms.

In 1948 that all changed with The Gas Act 1948 brought in by Clement Attlee's Labour government. The act nationalised the UK gas industry and 1062 privately owned and municipal gas companies were merged into twelve Area Gas Boards each a separate body with its own management structure. Each Area Board was divided into geographical groups or divisions which were often further divided into smaller districts. These boards simply became known as the "Gas Board", a term people still use when referring to British Gas.

During the 1950s the use of gas increased greatly with British Gas creating high street showrooms to promote the use of gas. By the 1960s the UK was importing 300,000 tons of liquefied natural gas from Africa every year.

Surveys in the North Sea had shown that there were large reserves of natural gas and in 1966 the decision was taken to convert the UK from town gas to natural gas. The next year the first natural gas from the North Sea had arrived and over the next 10 years British Gas carried out a massive conversion programme converting appliances from town gas to natural gas.


In 1974 British Gas was restructured with The Gas Act 1972 which centralized the company creating the British Gas Corporation and turning the area boards into regions of the new company.


The 1986 Gas Act led to the privatisation of the company, and on 8th December its shares floated on the London stock market. In the hope of encouraging individuals to become shareholders, the offer was intensely advertised with the "If you see Sid, tell him" campaign. The initial public offering of 135p per share valued the company at £9 billion, the highest equity offering ever at the time.

The government created an industry regulator, the Office of Gas Supply (Ofgas), to protect customer needs. It would later become part of the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem).

In preparation for the opening of the gas supply markets to competition in 1996, British Gas plc had to go through a major restructuring which separated the company into five divisions.

* Public Gas Supply (Domestic gas supply).
* Contract Trading (Business Supply)
* Transportation and Storage later named Transco (Transporting and storage of gas).
* Service and Installation (Later named Services).
* Retail (Later named Energy Centres).


Following the restructuring, with shareholder approval, British Gas plc was demerged to form two separate companies on 17 February 1997.

*Centrica plc
** Took responsibility of the gas supply business and the gas production business of the North and South Morecambe gas fields. Centrica has the rights to the British Gas name inside the UK.

*BG plc included:
** Took responsibility of Transco the gas transportation business and the international exploration and production business. BG plc went through a financial restructuring in 1999. This resulted in a new parent company being created, BG Group plc, which subsequently demerged into two new business BG Group plc and Lattice Group plc. Lattice which contained the Transco business then went on to merge with the National Grid Company. BG Group has the rights to the British Gas name outside the UK.

Shareholders received one BG share and one Centrica share for every British Gas share.

ee also

*Energy policy of the United Kingdom
*Energy use and conservation in the United Kingdom
*Meter Point Administration Number


*Chandler, Dean and Lacey, A. Douglas (1949) "The Rise of the Gas Industry in Britain". British Gas Council, London.
*Scott-Wilson, D. (1972) "North Sea Heritage: The Story of Britain's Natural Gas". The Gas Council, London.
*Cassidy, Richard. (1979) "Gas: Natural Energy". Fredrick Muller Ltd London. ISBN-13: 978-0584620566
*Peebles, Malcolm W.H. (1980) "Evolution of the Gas Industry". The Macmillan Press, London and Basingstoke. ISBN 0-333-27971-9.
*Williams, Trevor I. (1981) "A History of the British Gas Industry", Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-858157-2.
*Barry-King, Hugh. (1984) "New Flame. How Gas changed the commercial, domestic and industrial life of Britain between 1883 and 1984". Graphmitre Ltd, Tavistock, Devon UK.
*Hutchison, Sir Kenneth, (1987) "High Speed Gas: An autobiography". Duckworth, London. ISBN 0-7156-2200-5.
* [] - BBC article about Gas Prices
* [,,1728385,00.html] - Guardian article about British Gas

External links

* [] - The official UK British Gas site.
* [ Bills] - pay and manage your British Gas bill online.
* [ DIY] - DIY advice and guides from British Gas.
* [ Central Heating] - British Gas central heating systems and advice.
* [ Security] - British Gas home security help and advice.
* [ British Gas HomeCare] - British Gas HomeCare.
* [ National Grid National Gas Archive] - Includes contact details for the archives of British Gas and its predecessors, and a history of gas supply in the UK.

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