In the early 1900s the gas market in the United Kingdom was mainly run by county councils and small private firms. At this time the use of an inflammable gas (often known as "town gas") piped to houses as a fuel was still being marketed to consumers, by such means as the National Gas Congress and Exhibition in 1913. The gas used in the 19th and early 20th centuries was coal gas but in the period 1967–77 British domestic coal gas supplies were replaced by natural gas.
In 1948 Clement Attlee's Labour government reshaped the gas industry, bringing in the Gas Act 1948. The act nationalised the UK gas industry and 1,064 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, the company that replaced the boards when the Gas Act 1972 was passed.