British Gas

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British Gas Trading Limited
Limited company (subsidiary of Centrica)
Industry Utilities
Predecessor 1812 (as the Gas Light and Coke Company)
1948 (as the area gas boards)
1973 (as the British Gas Corporation)
1986 (as British Gas plc)
Founded 1997 (as a subsidiary of Centrica)
Headquarters Various, United Kingdom
Area served
United Kingdom
Key people
Mark Hodges (Managing Director)
Products Gas
Boilers and central heating
Plumbing and drains
Renewable Energy
Home appliance services
Parent Centrica
Slogan Looking after your world

British Gas is an energy and home services provider in the United Kingdom. It is the trading name of British Gas Services Limited and British Gas New Heating Limited, both subsidiaries of Centrica.[1] Serving around twelve million homes in the UK, British Gas is the biggest UK energy supplier and is considered one of the Big Six[2] dominating the gas and electricity market in the United Kingdom.

The brand British Gas remains from the demerger of the British Gas Corporation in 1997, which formed Centrica, BG Group and Transco. The British Gas Corporation was a result of the restructuring of the UK gas industry following the Gas Act 1972. The act merged all of the area boards and created the British Gas Corporation.

The British Gas Corporation was privatised as British Gas plc by the Thatcher government and on 8 December 1986 its shares were floated on the London stock market.

Centrica trades as Scottish Gas in Scotland.



Further information: Gas Light and Coke Company

The Gas Light and Coke Company was the first public utility company in the world. It was founded by Frederick Albert Winsor and incorporated by Royal Charter on 30 April 1812 under the seal of King George III.[3] It continued to thrive for the next 136 years, expanding into domestic services whilst absorbing many smaller companies including the Aldgate Gas Light and Coke Company (1819), the City of London Gas Light and Coke Company (1870), the Equitable Gas Light Company (1871), the Great Central Gas Consumer's Company (1870), Victoria Docks Gas Company (1871), Western Gas Light Company (1873), Imperial Gas Light and Coke Company (1876), Independent Gas Light and Coke Company (1876), the London Gas Light Company (1883), Richmond Gas Company (1925), Brentford Gas Company (1926), Pinner Gas Company (1930) and Southend-on-Sea and District Gas Company (1932).[4]

On 1 May 1949 the GLCC became the major part of the new North Thames Gas Board, one of Britain's twelve regional Gas Boards[3] after the passing of the Gas Act 1948 by Clement Attlee's post-war Labour government.


Further information: Area gas boards

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 flammable 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.

Commemorative plaque in Great Peter Street

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 1,062 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 still sometimes used when referring to British Gas.[citation needed]


In the early 1970s the UK gas industry was again restructured after the Gas Act 1972 was passed. The act merged all the area boards and created the British Gas Corporation.[5]

From its inception, the corporation was responsible for development and maintenance of the supply of gas to Great Britain, in addition to satisfying reasonable demand for gas throughout the country. Its leadership, like that of the area boards, was appointed and supervised by the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry until 1974, when those powers were vested in the newly created position of Secretary of State for Energy.


Further information: British Gas plc

The Conservative Government led by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher introduced the Gas Act 1986 in which led to the privatisation of the company, and on 8 December 1986 its shares floated on the London stock market. In the hope of encouraging individuals to become shareholders, the offer was 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.[6]


Further information: Centrica

In 1997, 11 years after it had been privatised, British Gas plc demerged to become the entirely separate BG Group and the Gas Sales and Gas Trading, Services and Retail businesses. The Gas Sales and Gas Trading and Services and Retail businesses, together with the gas production business of the North and South Morecambe gas fields, were transferred to Centrica, which continues to own and operate the British Gas retail brand.[7]

British Gas is led by its Managing Director, who oversees a business that provides energy and services to 11 million homes and employs over 28,000 staff based across the UK.

A newly designed British Gas van

Advertising, sponsorship and marketing[edit]

British Gas has actively been involved in sports sponsorship, including a six-year deal with the British swimming team which commenced in March 2009 and is expected to net the team £15 million[8] and from 2006 to 2009 it sponsored the Southern Football League of England.[9]

Its extensive television advertising has featured many high profile individuals, and in the early 1990s one advertisement included Cheryl Cole as a small child, more than ten years before the beginning of her pop music career.[10]

In November 2012 the Information Commissioner's Office publicly listed British Gas as one of a number of companies that it had concerns about due to unsolicited telephone calls for marketing. The concerns were based on complaints. In response, British Gas said that "We uphold the highest standards when contacting people in their homes, and only use contact information if we have express permission to do so."[11]

In July 2014 UK regulator Ofgem reached an agreement with British Gas for the company to pay £1 million in compensation to hundreds of people who had been advised to switch from other suppliers to British Gas by British Gas advisers using exaggerated claims.[12]

Distribution network operators[edit]

British Gas is an energy supplier for homes across the country. The infrastructure (pipes) which delivers the gas to consumers is owned and maintained by other companies. They do not however manage the network of towers and cables that distributes electricity - these are maintained by distribution network operators (DNOs) which vary from region to region. If, for instance, there is a power outage it is necessary to contact the appropriate DNO rather than the energy supplier. See entry on distribution network operator for a full list. [13]


  1. ^ "British Gas Legal Information",, retrieved 2 March 2012  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ "Millions face rise in energy bills", 11 October 2012, retrieved 11 October 2012  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ a b "Gas, Light and Coke Company". Archives in the M25 area. AIM25. 
  4. ^ "NORTH THAMES GAS PREDECESSOR". AIM25 Archives in London and the M25 area. Retrieved 10 August 2011. 
  5. ^ "Gas Act 1972", 17 July 2012, retrieved 17 July 2012  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ "30 SECOND GUIDE: Tell Sid". 17 July 2012. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  7. ^ "Demerger". 17 July 2012. Retrieved 1 August 2012. 
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Before They Were Famous: Celebs In Ads (VIDEO)". Huffington Post. 
  11. ^ Core, Kevin (16 November 2012), "Commissioner names firms over 'nuisance' marketing calls", BBC News, retrieved 8 February 2013  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  12. ^ "BG pays compensation for mis-sold contracts". Britain News.Net. Retrieved 5 July 2014. 
  13. ^ "The GB electricity distribution network". Retrieved 14 July 2014. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]