In Genoa the emerging gas industry rapidly spread and, already in 1838, the city examined a first offer by the Lyon Gas Company, which wanted to start a new plant in Genoa; this offer was rejected, like the following ones made in 1842 and 1843.
Nevertheless, on the 25th of September 1844, the company Società di illuminazione a gas signed with the City Council a first contract for public lighting.
A gasworks was built in via Canevari, in the Sciallero property which then extended over an area of 8,500 sq. m., and included four gas holders, used to store and release coal gas.
In the following year, the first pipelines were laid in a small downtown area. In 1846 the city was provided with gas lamps for public lighting and in 1852 the Carlo Felice theatre cbandelier was adapted for the passage of gas. The via Canevari gasworks soon proved not to be enough to meet gas demand and, therefore, new gasworks were built in Sampierdarena.
In 1857 the Società di illuminazione a gas was replaced by the company Union des Gaz of Paris which signed a 67-year contract with the City Council, granting, up to 1922, an exclusive concession for the city public lighting.
In late 19th century and early 20th century, gas consumption increased rapidly,
which made necessary the construction of new gasworks in Gavette, in the Bisagno Valley, inaugurated in 1908.
In 1922 the Genoa City Council decided upon the termination of the contract with the company Union des Gaz, assuming direct control of gas services and taking over the Gavette and Sampierdarena gasworks and the via Canevari gasworks, that became in 1911 a gasholder station.
In 1936 the company Azienda Municipalizzata Gas e Acqua (AMGA) was established. The second World War caused serious damage to the company and gas production stopped for some years.
Starting from the end of the 60s, following the spread of natural gas, coal gas production ended and the Gavette gasworks underwent numerous transformations.
Gas production at Gavette
1903-1908: the Construction of the Gasworks
In 1903 the French company Union des Gaz, to meet the increasing gas demand, acquired a piece of land in the Bisagno Valley, at Gavette, to establish a new gasworks.
The area, which belonged to Marchese Durazzo Pallavicini, was probably used as a horse stable and riding track; in the period immediately preceding the construction of the gasworks, it was used first as a bicycle-race track by the Società Ginnastica Ligure Cristoforo Colombo and, later, as a football field by the Genoa CFC.
The Gavette gasworks was inaugurated in 1908 and extended over a surface of approximately 70,000 sq. m. The area was occupied by a series of industrial buildings with different functions, such as coal storage, production of coke using retort ovens, coke storage, together with residential buildings for workers, canteens, change rooms, locker and shower facilities and a gas holder.
In the first years of activity, coal, the raw material for gas production, was delivered to the gasworks by cart. Carts were replaced, in 1927, by railway.
In 1927, to meet the increasing need for coal, a railway section was built linking the Gavette gasworks to the Terralba freight terminal.
Starting from Terralba, the railway entered Corso Sardegna, reached the banks of the Bisagno stream, traveling along the Municipal Stadium and the town prison, crossed the Veronelli bridge, cut obliquely through the riverbed and entered the gasworks gate.
Since the rail tracks were built on an existing roadway, to minimize traffic disruption, the railway ran from late at night until dawn. The railway was closed at the end of the 60s.