« 이전계속 »
For general heating purposes, wherever a fire is wanted occasionally or only for a few hours daily, such as in the bedroom, drawing-room, and occasional rooms, a gas fire will be a saving in expense and a great boon; but where a fire is wanted all day long, as in the sitting-room, a gas stove cannot be recommended on the score of economy (under existing circumstances), though it is without doubt a most convenient thing—if properly fitted and having a good draught-and with it a room may be kept at any desired temperature almost without attention. If a gas fire smells, it is either one's own fault or the fault of the person who fixed it. If your gas cookingstove smells, then you must have a dirty cook. You may say : “But a coal fire looks so much better, so much more cheerful.” Here I agree with you. The taste displayed by the manufacturers of gasfires, up to the present, is execrable. But give them a chance: the industry is merely in its infancy. Again you may argue : “I find that the air in a room heated by gas is so dry.”
This very argument is in my favour. It shows that the combustion of your fuel is very nearly complete. With a coke fire you wiil find the same objection, and almost as much to a closed-in stove. In fact, it is only when you are doing your level best to reduce one of the greatest resources of your country to beggary, and to choke your fellow-men and women with a vaporous sulphuric acid from your open coal fire, that you feel thoroughly comfortable. But you need not suffer this dry heat, if you object to it ; a simple pipe running through the floor or an outside wall below the level of the gas-fire will supply it with air, and the atinosphere of your room will not then be interfered with. This ought, in my opinion, to be done wherever gas-fires are fitted as a permanency.
Here is another point. Why should not landlords have gas-fires put in in the place of open fires where the tenants desire it? The universal adoption of gas for heating purposes would cure London of its fogs; but it would be a sorry day for sweeps and for coal-merchants.
There are many points in the use of gas that consumers do not think of. In most houses there are “regulators” on all the burners in the dining-room and drawing-rooms, to save the gas; but in the kitchen any kind of burner is good enough, and the servants may flare away gas as they please. The kitchen burners are the very ones that it is much more important to regulate ; but in this way people do not economise, simply for want of thought.
From the same lack of thought or knowledge people will go on letting ceilings become blackened, fittings and decorations tarnished, and picture frames near the ceiling become slowly spoilt by the use of open unprotected burners. Where the decorations of a room are valuable, regenerative lamps, such as the Wenham, should be used, and if necessary a ventilating shaft carried to a good flue or outer wall. By this means, not only will the light be doubled with a far less consumption of gas, but all the above objections will be swept away, and the atmosphere of the room will be as pure and healthy as with an electric light; for it must be borne in mind that no good ventilation is possible without heat.
In the universal adoption of gas as a heating agent for ordinary domestic purposes, "atmospheric-gas” | alone would be burnt. For the heating of boilers for steam purposes, “atmospheric-gas” would be burnt in conjunction with coke. The result would be a vast saving to the coal-fields of England-one of our greatest national resources; and an atmosphere in London and our great towns as healthful and almost as pure as in the heart of the country.
But we have still the one great difficulty to overcome. Our gas must be cheaper. How is this to be brought about?
No doubt a greatly increased consumption would bring down the price a little in itself ; but, under existing circumstances, we cannot hope to be supplied much cheaper than we are in London at the present time. Gas companies do not make the enormous profits that people generally suppose. As an investment, gas shares are no better than railroad shares—nor are they so safe. It is not so long ago that the great panic was caused by the introduction of electricity; and although most of the fear from competition in that quarter has now passed away, something else may turn up, while railways must go on running for generations-perhaps as long as the world may last. And gas meters do not lie as much as is generally supposed. They are constructed on the best known measuring principle, and as often run slow as fast. If you think that your meter is too fast you will, no doubt, have it tested by Government: it is one's privilege. If you think that it is slow you will probably say nothing about it, and still think yourself very honest. In the same way, I have no doubt that thousands of people think the paying of a deposit down (although paid interest upon the money) is an injustice ; and yet many move away from certain districts leaving no address behindand a gas bill far in advance of their original deposit remains unpaid.
Now, having obtained (in theory) a greatly increased consumption of gas, I will propound a scheme whereby the cost of manufacture
Of course, atmospheric-gas, taken literally, would mean one or other of the gases in the air we breathe ; but where I have used the expression in this article, "atmospheric-gas" must be taken to mean coal-gas mixed with air.
might be materially reduced, so that we may be supplied with it as a fuel that shall be cheaper than coal for all practical purposes and far more convenientin its uses. And moreover with its universal adoption not even one ton of coal, bringing with it, as it does, its dust and blacks and soot that pervade everything, need come within a limited radius of the city. Striking a general average, something like 8,000,ooo tons of coals are burnt in London annually, exclusive of the enormous amount carbonised by gas companies and consumed in factories. Now, gas is conveyed in America, where “natural” gas exists, very considerable distances to supply outlying towns. Why cannot the same thing be done here 2 Does it strike you what a stupendous sum is paid out by London itself for the freightage alone of this enormous amount of fuel ? Why should not this freightage, to a great extent, be saved?' A ton of coal weighs a ton (naturally): convert it into gas, and it comes at once as a decimal in gravitation, and could be conveyed in mains at a very small expenditure of force per mile. A series of trunk mains, running direct from the coal districts to different parts of the city, could therefore supply London with fuel in this form far cheaper than railroads or ships can do it at the present time in the form of coal. In fact, it is quite a question in my own mind whether one or two of our largest companies could not, even under existing circumstances, adopt this scheme with profit. True, the first outlay would be very great, but the saving of freightage annually would be an enormous item, and should be equivalent to a good dividend upon the investment. When once laid, these mains would (unlike railways) cost little to maintain ; and, in comparison, the expenditure of conveyance would be but a trifling item. But if gas were universally adopted as a fuel, then undoubtedly this scheme would be worthy of the very serious consideration of capitalists as an investment. Moreover, it need not very seriously affect existing arrangements. The same “holders” that are now used would be supplied from the trunk mains instead of direct from the “retorts”; and all the existing machinery and “services” would be required for the distribution of the gas. It is merely a question of carbonising at the mouth of the pit instead of in London, thereby saving to a great extent the expense of carting, shifting, and conveying such an enormous mass as some millions of tons annually a distance of two or three hundred miles.
'Allowing for every possible waste, I believe that the saving effected would be more than eight shillings a ton.
And the result would be that the greatest city in the world would become smokeless, and a comparative paradise to live in-without any extra taxation. There would be a stupendous saving annually in one of the greatest resources of our country—(I have used the words before, but they will bear a great deal of repetition)-and, lastly, all London people would be benefited individually, not only in health but in pocket.
Perhaps, to better illustrate my point, it will be as well to take a hurried survey of the manufacture of gas, and follow the processes through which it passes before coming to the consumer, to show that all these may be just as well carried out at the pit's mouth as in London. In fact, the only serious drawback to the gas companies would be that their coke and other products would not naturally, under existing circumstances, be nearly so valuable as now; but if all furnaces in large cities were compelled by Act of Parliament to burn coke, either alone or in conjunction with "atmospheric-gas," this would be a set-off against that drawback; and also the market for coke would not be so casual as is now the case.
There is another point :-Much more coke would be used now in private houses if it were not for the sulphurous fumes that such a fire erits. Coke burnt alone makes an excellent fire, if properly broken and properly laid, but it is neither healthy nor pleasant to sit over : consequently people mix with it about one-half coal. The fact is that coke should not be suppiied direct from the gas companies to the consumer, but ought to pass through intermediate hands where it would be broken and screened into several different sizes to suit different grates ; and where it would also be submitted to some slight chemical process which would extract the remaining sulphur and minor products that it still retains, without interfering with the heating properties.
Let us, then, start at the beginning and follow the coal from, say, Durham (if there is no strike on), through the various changes until it is consumed as gas; perhaps casting too glaring a light upon the revel and squalor of a Whitechapel gin palace; or toned down a little to suit the hangings and complexions of a Belgravian drawingroom ; or better still, to shine, just softly enough, upon you and me (and a couple of friends) at a quiet little dinner at Romano's. But I am losing time, and we must journey along more briskly.
Let us start from the mine itself and go with our coal to Newcastle, where it is loaded into ships. When this is done we go on board, the anchor is weighed, and, although we are on a “coaler," we thank God that we are out of Newcastle. So we coast down
until at last we come into the Thames, and our cargo is transferred in the docks from our ship into barges, which carry it up the river : for I am going to take gas works either upon the riverside or the banks of a canal for my description. Here we are, then, at last at some riverside wharf of a gas company in London-and perhaps we thark God that we have not to live in this city either.
The barge will not have been alongside long, most likely, before it is unloaded. This is done in the ordinary way by very ordinary labour : namely, shovelled into “skips,” which are taken up by a “crane ” and tilted into “trollies,” which convey the coal and shoot it where it will be most handy for the stokers. And this seems to me a very primitive method. As we have seen, our coal has been transferred three if not four times. Why should not at least the coal barges be constructed with a series of upright cylinders, each holding a ton, and exactly fitting into the barge : each cylinder to have a ring at the top-in fact, to be in itself practically a "skip”? These would then be listed and transferred from car to barge, and barge to trolly, without any shovelling. Surely the trade is sufficient to warrant the construction of a series of boats made something after this fashion, that could afford to carry coal at the same freightage as now.
To charge the retorts (which are in a setting heated to a temperature that in some works reaches 2,500 degrees) in the ordinary way very long “scoops” are used ; these are filled all along with coal, then two men with a simple bent iron, giving a tap, tap upon the iron "stage”-floor as a signal to the gang charging from the opposite end, raise the scoop to the mouth of the retort, while the other man (the gang consisting of three) holding and guiding the handle runs up to them, so pushing the entire length of the scoop within the retort. This is done from each end by two gangs of stokers, and when the scoops meet in the middle of the retort they are turned over and withdrawn, the coal at once beginning to “carbonise ” and throw off gas. When that particular retort is charged the doors are closed simultaneously, wedged up by a simple and ingenious lever, the valve (where anti-dip valves are used) opened, and the gas coming at once under the influence of the “exhauster” is carried away through the “condensers ” and other plant, where we must follow it—and quickly.
But we must stay just one minute to describe a different kind of setting, that will no doubt soon entirely supersede the horizontal mode : this is the “inclined ” retort. In these the retorts are placed obliquely, and are charged from hoppers at the top end by means of a charger that cuts off the correct number of cwts. of coal, in much the same way that a muzzle-loading gun is charged from a