Natural gas is one of the three vital utility services alongside electricity and water that powers British homes and British industry, but its widespread adoption was relatively slow until the development of gas pipelines that allowed it to be made more widely and safely available.

For centuries, methane gas was seen not as an important material for cooking and heating but instead as a bizarre natural phenomenon such as at Mount Chimaera or even a potential threat.

This began to change in the 19th century with the early work of engineers such as James Sharp, but whilst his assertions that gas was a much cleaner fuel source than coal, was cheaper overall as it could be controlled more precisely and led to better cooking, he found it difficult to convert people.

However, he quickly found an ally in arguably the most famous chef in the world at that time. Alexis Soyer was a French chef in exile after the July Revolution but seven years after he fled to London he had been given the opportunity to be the head chef of the Reform Club.

Best of all for the inventive Mr Soyer was the fact that the kitchen had not been completed yet, and he was given a blank canvas alongside architect Charles Barry to make the kitchen he wanted to make.

Alongside steam cookers, coal and charcoal, Mr Soyer requested several gas ranges and cookers be fitted, and his sign of approval helped to precipitate widespread acceptance of natural gas as a cooking fuel, something that only magnified across the remainder of the century.

What helped this was the development of the Bunsen burner in the 1850s, cast-iron stoves becoming standard in the 1860s and the development of a hire system that allowed households to rent a stove and see the benefits for themselves.