Gas was brought to Folkestone in 1842, thanks to the enterprise of the then Town Clerk, Mr R.T. Brockman, who injected capital of £2,500 to supply 60 customers and 30 street lamps. Demand outstripped supply and the original works, near where The Grand Burstin Hotel now stands, were abandoned in favour of a much larger site in Foord Road.
In the middle of the nineteenth century the Old Gas Works Site was the centre of the charming village of Foord and the residential estate known as Viaduct Villas was demolished to make way for the huge new gasholders. This trailblazing activity was made possible by the Folkestone Gas Act of 1865.
The village of Foord had remained cut off from the rest of Folkestone because it did not have easy road access to the harbour and the remainder of the town. Poor transport links made the transportation of coal to the new site difficult. Coal was brought to the harbour by ship and then by horse drawn cart uphill to Rendezvous Street and then down again via Grace Hill to the works. Access was improved with the construction of a new road from Tontine Street to Foord Road. The returning coal carts carried chalk back to the colliers in the harbour for ballast and the new road became known as the “Milky Way” for the chalk dust that lined the route.
When an even larger gasholder was built in 1875, a champagne reception was held inside the gasholder, which was lit by gas lamps and decorated with foliage. Jyll Bradley’s work recreates the idea of celebration on the now redundant site.