The South Road gas works started operation in December 1882. The site had the advantage of being adjacent to the Alnwick branch railway line which would be able to deliver coal directly to the new plant. A tramway from the collieries at Shilbottle ran through the site to link to the railway, but the coal from here was found to be unsuitable for the generation of gas.
The South Road gas works was periodically upgraded and became one of the main producers in the area. It continued production until 1964 supplying the local area. Following closure of the production, gas was supplied from major sites, such as at Blaydon, though the Alnwick site remained in operation, providing storage and pressure control for the national gas distribution system until 1984, when the large gas holders were finally demolished. Pressure control is still carried out in a new facility on South Road, maintaining the link with the original South Road plant and its predecessors.
At South Road, there is a row of terraced houses called “Gas Works Cottages”. The larger of these properties was the manager’s house, with the other three being for workers. The gas works itself occupied what is now a small industrial estate, accommodating Kitson Windows amongst other businesses. By the entrance is the old office and weighbridge while behind is a larger building originally built for purifying and metering the gas, and for workshops. Later the bulding was also used to house pressure boosting compressors.