Gas was produced at Bromley-by-Bow in East London from 1873 until the 1970s, after which it was used only to store gas.
The gas holders were decommissioned in 2010 meaning it is now ripe for redevelopment.
The visit, on 20th October 2022, was run by the site owners, St William, who are looking to redevelop the site.
Having donned hard hats, hi-viz and steel toe capped boots, we listened to a health and safety briefing before being taken around the site with the project staff and historical tour guide taking it in turns to talk on their areas of expertise.
The redevelopment will retain the structure of the gas holders with apartment blocks built inside the rings of ironwork in the same way as has been done around Kings Cross.
The project website, and details of the consultation about the plans, can be found at: https://bromley-by-bow.com/
The Gasworks Site
As built, the site contained nine gas holders. Originally they held the gas created in the gasworks on the site that is now occupied by the adjacent Prologis industrial estate.
The gas was extracted from coal by heating it up on site. In 1976, with gas becoming available from the North Sea transported around the United Kingdom by pipeline, the gasworks became redundant and closed in 1976. Whilst removing a major local employer, the closure also likely removed a local source of a huge amount of pollution.
World War Two
Bromley-by-Bow gasworks was clearly a prime target for enemy bombers in the Second World War. Gas holders three and five were both destroyed beyond repair and demolished.
Whilst gasholder five was completely removed leaving only its circular outline, gas holder three had only the bell and above ground ironwork removed leaving a large circular pond in its place. This pond, once cleaned up, will be a key feature of the redeveloped site.
Tucked away on the Prologis industrial estate, the three War Memorials were the biggest surprise of the tour.
- To the left is the Pagoda containing memorial plaques to those lost in the Fist and Second World Ware.
- In the middle is the memorial to those who worked at the factory and whom were killed whilst producing gas.
- On the right is the column upon which there is a gas powered eternal flame. To the At the base of the column, to the right, is the First World War
The pagoda to the left of the group of three war memorials containing panels to those company employees lost in both World War One and Two.
The central panel of the War Memorials remembers those killed whilst working at the gasworks producing gas during the First World War. Lots of people don’t realise that London was bombed during World War One by Zeppelin airships and then, later, Gotha bi-plane bomber aircraft.
The First World War bronze plaque to the fallen. This is on the right hand of the pillar with the eternal flame. It is identical to that in the pagoda except it has been partially gilded.