Tales from the City- Passing some Gas at the Gasometer!

Susan Nolen's Photograph of the Gas Holder London England


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!


Susan Nolen's Gasometer no 8


” 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

About susan sheldon nolen

It’s rare to catch me without coffee, a form of camera, or my beloved wire fox terriers. I love the history, the art, and it’s a massive part of my life, as I either paint, write, or get interrupted by my dogs, reminding me of the real world. I hope you enjoy your time here. It’s such a privilege to have readers.
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1 Response to Tales from the City- Passing some Gas at the Gasometer!

  1. y. prior says:

    enjoyed this post – for a few reasons. First, I agree = “I love reusing the old for new purposes!”
    also – these are quote artsy utility pieces – incredible. and also – we just did a canal walk in our town (just made a video too) and well, there were piece sod coal all along certain paths and it really made me think about how coal burns and so your little tutorial here is just in the same flavor of what has been on my mind.
    lastly, the top photo is one of my favorite kind of shots. I cal them QUAD shots – where there are different things in each of the 4 quads – and here you give us a lighted building and sky in the center/left to top – then the right top we get all this designer iron – bottom right you give us the pole with the graffiti and stone wall – and then to the lower middle/left – we get a person – with foot raised and in walking motion. The straps on her back back and the two lines from where her pansy and socks do not meet – well they add to all the line and shape designs we have (front he brick, the pieces of criss cross iron, words not he sign, etc.) – such a great composition – and I like the bottom edited version of the structure as well.

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