A VICTORIAN businessman who helped to bring gas and water to a developing world has been honoured in his home town of St Neots. Although George Bower was eventually declared bankrupt, during his lifetime he was seen as an entrepreneur, exporting products

George Bower

A VICTORIAN businessman who helped to bring gas and water to a developing world has been honoured in his home town of St Neots.

Although George Bower was eventually declared bankrupt, during his lifetime he was seen as an entrepreneur, exporting products around the globe.

He lived in The Shrubbery, Church Street, for more than 50 years and his former home now has a plaque dedicated to his memory.

The St Neots Local History Society unveiled the plaque yesterday (Tuesday), not only to commemorate Mr Bower, but also to mark the society's 25th anniversary.

Historian Linda Reed, who has researched his life, was present at the event, along with Mr Bower's great-granddaughter, Biddy Cole.

"George was an entrepreneur who brought employment and wealth to St Neots in Victorian times," said Mrs Reed.

The Bower business empire was in the Market Square and Brook Street.

At the height of his prosperity, Mr Bower employed 200 men manufacturing gas equipment, from small portable apparatus to gasworks for large cities.

These were exported to countries as far afield as South Africa and America.

He built more than 1,000 gasworks - reputed to be more than anyone else at that time - and undertook the building of waterworks and other civil engineering projects.

He was also behind the first patent to prevent rust forming on pipes - the process was used widely in the gas and water industries.

In 1855, Mr Bower became a member of the Town Commissioners in St Neots where he remained a member until his resignation in 1887. He also founded the St Neots Working Men's Club, which later became the Constitutional Club.

Mr Bower went bankrupt and died in 1911, aged 85. But his legacy lives on in the town, He donated a stained glass window which is still in St Mary's Church.

He was also associated with the building of East Street and Avenue Road, in St Neots.