When you are out and about in England you might pass by this odd-looking Iron Chamber. This one I wandered past was Single Gasholder No 8, on the Regent’s Canal, behind King’s Cross Station, London. It was built in the 1850’s to hold the town’s gas and remained in use until the late 20th century. Amazingly the gas was made right on the spot from coal, by the Imperial Gas, Light and Coke Company. It’s a marvellous 25 metres high. I was surprised to learn that it had been dismantled, and shipped off to Yorkshire for repairs as it is a Grade 11 listed Structure. I was lucky enough to be walk by it, already rehomed! The frame will possibly have new life as park or flats. I love reusing the old for new purposes!
It, like most gasworks, needed to be near the train station, as the coal travelled down from the northern coal mines. Coal was burnt to release gas and was nicknamed, town gas. It was not one of those turn on the taps sort of thing and the gas flows, the coal had to be burnt and then the gas stored. Hence the need for these amazing iron cages. Inside the iron cage were smaller cylindrical tanks. As the gas was pumped in these tanks expanded. Rubber gaskets sealed the sections. People could see the Gasometer slowly decrease in height as the gas was used. Be interesting to learn if any of them ever leaked!
” An ordinary candle consumes as much air while burning as a man in health while breathing; the same may be said with regard to gas, oil-lamps, &c., bearing a proportion to the amount of light evolved. One hour after the gas of London is lighted, the air is deoxydized as much as if 500,000 people had been added to its population. During the combustion of oil, tallow, gas, &c., water is produced. In cold weather we see it condensed on the windows of ill-ventilated shops. By the burning of gas in London during twenty-four hours, more water is produced than would supply a ship laden with emigrants on a voyage from London to Adelaide.”
John Timbs, Curiosities of London, 1867