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Most credit for the discovery of a commercial process for coal gas manufacture goes to William Murdoch, an overlooked engineering genius. Between 1795 and 1796, at the Neath Abbey Iron Works, Murdoch conducted further experiments into the design of retorts, and he lit the counting houses of the works, describing the illumination produced by the gas as ‘a Strong and Beautiful Light’.
The very early gasworks built by the Neath Abbey Iron Company had a very simple condenser design. This consisted of a long water-filled trough through which water passed and in which the gas pipes were placed. A more advanced version of this design was used at the Old Kent Road Gasworks of the South Metropolitan Gas Company.

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