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British Industrial History

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John Breillat

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John Breillat (1769-1856)

1796 Birth of son Ebenezer Breillat

1815 Breillat established a scheme for supplying gas lighting in Bristol,[1] later incorporated as the Bristol Gas Light Co, otherwise referred to as the Bristol Gas Co.

1851 Living at the 2 Gas Works, Bristol: John Breillat (age 82 born London), Engineer. With his wife Sophia Breillat (age 46 born Cromhall, Glos). Note in the adjoining house is Ebenezer Breillat.[2]

1861 Article (extract).

...The honour of introducing gas into the City of Bristol must be accorded to the late Mr John Breillat, the descendant of a French citizen, who had settled in England during the revocation of the edict of Nantes, and was born in the city of London in 1770.

He originally followed the business of a dyer, but had no taste for that employment. He had, however, an inclination for chemistry, and was persevering in endeavouring to obtain an insight into that science.

About the year 1804 the lecture of Mr Winsor attracted his attention, and he eagerly engaged in a course of experiments on the purification of coal-gas. In 1793 he came to Bristol, where, at No. 56, Broadmead, he carried on his business a dyer.

In 1811 he publicly lectured on the new mode of illumination, and at last brought his experiments to such perfection that on Monday evening, Sept. 2nd, 1811, just fifty years ago, he lit up his parlour with this new illuminating power. Mr Breillat was now received as a man of extensive scientific attainments, and numbered among his friends the most distinguished citizens of his day.

On Dec. 15th, 1815, at public meeting held at the Commercial Rooms, Dr. Kentish being in the chair, a company was formed for the purpose of lighting the city of Bristol with gas, Mr Breillat being appointed engineer. On March 27th, 1816, the first special general meeting of the proprietors of the Gas Company was held, in the same room.

On May 24th, 1817, the first gas lamps were lit in the city, two in the Exchange, one Wine Street, and one in St. Nicholas Street. On the 23rd March, 1819, the company was incorporated by act of Parliament, and commenced gas making in November 1821, in Avon Street, St. Philip's.

So rapid, indeed, was the progress of this new mode illumination, that, in the course of a few years after it was introduced, it was adopted all the principal towns the kingdom, for lighting streets, as well for shops and public edifices. the close of the year 1822, it appears, the report of Sir William Congreve, that the capital invested in the gas works of the metropolis amounted to about a million sterling. From this period Mr Breillat occupied the position of engineer to the Bristol Gas Company, from whom he received many tangible marks of esteem. At last the time came when he began to feel the weakness of old age, and his declining strength compelled him to resign his public employment. In this way few years passed on, and in April, 1856, in the 86th year of his age, he expired....

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. [1] Thornbury Roots website: 'How Gas Came to Thornbury'
  2. 1851 Census