“Privilege” or sentence? The gas company and the City Council of Sanlúcar de Barrameda (1882-1919)


  • Isabel Bartolomé Rodríguez Universidad de Sevilla
  • Álvaro Girón Sierra Instiutció Milà i Fonanals- CSIC


Gas, Electricity, Business history


This article focuses on the trajectory of Gaz Franco-Belge. Robert Lesage et Cie (Cie Franco- Belge), founded in Belgium in 1880, in Sanlúcar de Barrameda. Public gas lighting was inaugurated in 1883 and the company ceased its activity in 1919. This initiative may be included in an ephemeral generation of foreign companies in charge of municipal lighting. Apparently, these foreign direct investments were unreasonable where urban markets were underdeveloped. Competition with electricity and the restrictions on coal consumption during World War I finished with these firms. Actually, the exclusive “privilege” of public lighting was a sentence as long as the town Hall became both the main user and the only source of market regulation. Without any intention of either raising taxes or paying for this public service, the councils anchored concessionaires companies to unprofitable businesses, in localities with a very low income average.