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A Calor lorry driving in between green meadows in the countryside

Calor Gas

From the UK's first LPG cylinders to Futuria Liquid Gas

It's been quite the journey

From the Shetland Islands to the Isles of Scilly

Every day, we supply LPG and Futuria Liquid Gas (previously BioLPG) to our customers: families, businesses and communities who live or work off the mains gas grid.

We provide them with an energy that is easy to transport and store; which has many versatile uses, and which has a limited environmental impact. We're always innovating to make our customers lives better. And this our mission, for present and future generations.  

Salesmen issued with small vans which doubled as mobile showrooms

An innovative company

At every stage of our history, we've been pioneers of new ideas

From gas bottles to underground tanks, LPG to Futuria Liquid Gas, each decade has been marked by a new Calor innovation. 

Over the years, we've expanded quickly to meet evolving needs and reach more customers; whilst keeping true to the heart of our mission - facilitating access to gas across Great Britain, even outside the mains gas grid.

The team at Calor are proud to be celebrating our 85th anniversary in 2020. From the beginning of ‘Calor Gas’ in 1935, we have powered homes and businesses right across the UK for an incredible 85 years.

Calor 85 year logo

Happy 85th Birthday Calor

Let’s look back at the ‘then’ and ‘now’ of Calor to see how far we’ve come and what the future holds.

Our history

The history of Calor Gas

In 2020, Calor will turn 85 years old. Take a look through our story - how we started and how we thrived through two turbulent centuries.


An opportunity arises

The 1930's weren't a promising time to start a new business. But Ritchie Gill, a Cornish man who had been working in the Unites States, returned to his homeland in 1934 and spotted an opportunity for a product he had seen used successfully in America. That product was Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) or, more specifically at the time, butane.

Smartly dressed Mr R.Hill delivers gas to Whitely Manor

A brand is born

In January 1935, he set up the Modern Gas and Equipment Co. Ltd. Gill coined the name 'Calor Gas' (from the Latin for heat) for LPG which would later go onto be one of the most recognised brands in the UK.

Black and white advertisement: 'The Calor Gas Cylinder'
1937 - 1939

From Glamis Castle to Liverpool Street Station

By 1937, Calor Gas was being used for a variety of purposes - from floodlighting Glamis Castle; the ancestry home of Queen Elizabeth for the coronation of the Queen and King George VI; to demonstrating hot spray painting at Liverpool Street Station in London. There were even Calor powered road signs; and mobile coffee stalls. By 1939, advertising said there were 40,000 satisfied users, and 500 service and supply depots.


Helping the war effort

Before the war, Calor had become known for it's inventiveness and technical expertise; and combined with the flexible, portable nature of bottled gas, this put us in a great position to assist with the war efforts. Calor provided cooking facilities for motor torpedo boats and other small naval craft, power for mobile canteens, and emergency lighting and sterilisation systems for hospitals. With the RAF, we even developed smoke wind indicators for airfields and fuel for experimental hot air balloons!

Close up of large propeller on war plane

Road, not rail

Calor enjoyed a strong post-war period, buoyed by the renewed optimism of the people. With an ever-increasing number of cylinders being moved around the country, using the railway network became less and less viable. It was unreliable and time consuming; labels had to be attached to every cylinder before it could travel. Things came to a head in 1947, when an exceptionally hard winter froze the railways to a standstill. By June 1947, all cylinders were being moved around by road. And by 1948, Calor had national road transport coverage! By the end of it's first full year of operation, the transport department had delivered 1.28 million full cylinders and was operating 75 vehicles.


The Propane Revolution

By 1955, Calor had identified opportunities in industry - particularly in catering, poultry rearing and various factory production processes. Butane was unsuitable, but Propane looked promising. By June 1955, convinced that Propane was the answer, Calor ordered 50 100-gallon tanks to be installed to customer sites - a fundamental change to Calor's modus operandi!

Bulk transport lorries, each with three tanks, discharging gas into storage vessels

The first bulk tank is installed

The first Industrial Division at Calor was created in January 1st 1956 and the first propane bulk tank was installed on 22nd February 1956 at the Newmarket factory of well-known biscuit manufacturer Meredith and Drew.  The growth didn't stop there. By 1958, Calor had out-grown it's HQ and moved to a bigger premises in Great Portland Street. This was also the year of our first TV ad - a 90 second commercial about Associated Rediffusion.


The pace quickens

1963 saw the formation of Calor Gas Ltd. In 1966, we moved HQ again to Slough - which now housed over 300 employees. By 1967, Calor had been granted a Royal Warrant for the supply of LPG to Her Majesty, the Queen. Without a doubt, the 1960's for Calor were a time of meteoric growth in bulk sales - but soon Calor was seeking new opportunities again.

Fraser Pithie receiving award from Princess Diana

The Super Ser Years

There was nothing truly groundbreaking about portable heaters. But they, more than anything, changed Calor in the 1970s. Having seen success in Europe and Ireland; Calor took a chance and ordered 4,000 Super Ser heaters in 1970 - and thanks to Calor's marketing ability and extended dealer network, it quickly became our best selling appliance of all time.  Despite recession, industrial disruption and severe supply difficulties; Calor continued to prosper - and opened it's own gas storage facility at Felixstowe in 1976, with a capacity of 30,000 tonnes. It was the largest model propane storage in Europe.


A "Year Round" Business

A series of exceptionally mild winters inspired a focus on a "Year Round" business model; with attention shifting towards domestic central heating and the leisure market. Calor introduced new initiatives such as the "Calor Caravan Park Awards" and "Best Kept Village", coupled with the opening of direct sales outlets on high streets and more visible advertising. In 1988, privately-owned Dutch company SHV Energy acquired 40% of Calor's shares.

Calor World magazine cover from June 1987

Calor in the Community

The 1990's saw some big changes for Calor. 'Alfresco' cylinder sales boomed, and a greater emphasis was put on the environment and the communities that Calor served. In 1997, Calor become a wholly owned subsidiary of SHV Energy and the HQ was on the move again, this time to Warwick. Calor used this time to modernise many parts of the business, including centralising many regional functions, and starting to advertise on the internet. We also developed our first socially responsible policies; "Calor in the Community", to foster links between Calor and local communities.


The Rural Choice

Calor entered the new millennium as a streamlined company, ready to embrace opportunities. Calor Gas Direct, a partnership between Calor and it's major dealers, was one of the first new initiatives to be created - quickly followed by the expansion of the Calor Centre network, Calor Force, a specialist installation and maintenance division, moving to Warwick. Social initiatives kept evolving too, with the FREE campaign, Calor's Sustainability Commitment and a partnership with the Woodland Trust all being created. These changes allowed Calor to move into the 21st Century as THE rural fuel of the future, seeing off competition from renewable technologies such as solar heat pumps.

Calor 'The Think Tank' advertisement from 2004

BioLPG arrives

On 16th March 2018, Calor received the first delivery of BioLPG. This represented the start of the first large scale distribution of BioLPG in the world. BioLPG is a drop-in replacement for LPG, meaning consumers can use the same appliances and vehicles that are widely available throughout Europe.


We celebrate 85 years of Calor Gas!

Whilst some of our celebrations may have been postponed, we made sure the celebrations that could go ahead were great ones! We pushed the boat out with our annual Calor Rural Community Fund and increased the prize pot to £85,000.

Calor vehicles 85 years apart