Wednesday 24 September 2014

GASHOLDERS - what is happening to them round the world

Preserved Gas holders

This post has evolved from one I did a couple of days ago on   This was about the gasholder conference organised by the Institution of Gas Engineers last week. As a result a number of people have asked about gasholders around the world which have been converted to this and that - and so I have prepared this posting solely on that subject.  Thank you to all the people who have sent links and information - some of which are replicated below.

One of the papers at the Conference was on gas holder conversions (and I will come to Kings Cross later).  Russell described conversions at: 

Gasometer City, Vienna - shopping malls, flats and offices
Westergasfabriek, Amsterdam - used for creative industries.
Gaswerks, Augsberg - museum
Gaswerks Shoneberg, Berlin - event space and a structure resembling the Reichstag Dome
Leipzeig - commercial exhibition space and panoramas
Tauchrevier Gasometer, Duisberg  -indoor diving centre
Hobro Gasworks, Denmark - museum
Stockholm Gasworks, Sweden -  cultural venues
Turku, Finland - public spaces and music events
Museo del Gas, Barcelona - museum
Suvilahti, Helskini, Finland - cultural events and a circus school
Technopolis, Athens - industrial museum and cultural centre
MAN Gasholder, Oberhausen - cultural venue and landmark
The Gas Works, Dublin - now contains 240 flats
Newstead Gas Works Plaza, Australia - now a 'public plaza'
Kallang Gas Works, Singapore  - now an arena in a park
Oestre Gasveark Teater, Copenhagen  - now a theatre
Gefle Gasverks, Sweden    -  now a theatre

and did it with great slides and detail.  I am not sure of the status of his report and if a link through to it would be acceptable to IGE,

I did a brief article on gas holder reuse in a GIHS Newsletter over ten years ago - none of the web links I quoted work any more.  But I have put what information I have below. 

The links below gives information on holders in Continental Europe and America.  They are usually brick built structures - for the simple reason that in areas with very, very cold winters the water sealed holders used in Britain are just not practical. They are described on one site as "giant masonry round towers with several narrow windows and covered by metallic cupolas." - and those in St.Petersburg as "40 meters in diameter and stands 20 meters tall" They were built in 1872 and the same architect designed permanent circus buildings.  . However look and see what is being done with them:

Vienna - Simmering - One of the most famous examples of re-use of gas holders has been 'gasometer city' at Simmering. Read about it here - and much more than one holder is involved  and here are some reviews of their use as a shopping mall, albeit each with a different designer  and here's their web site

Brisbane.  A holder of the British type is a feature in a new park - and here is one of their bloggers on the subject
Oberhausen - easily the most famous gasholder conversion is at Oberhausen.  again it is in a type of holder not that familiar in England, although some do exist.    It is a museum and cultural centre and it is described as "the landmark of the city of Oberhausen and, beyond that, it has become an entire region's identification sign that cannot be overlooked".  /

Liepzeig - A link to a picture of the gas holder in Leipzeig can be found at and there is more about its conversion into a panometer in the America industrial archaeology magazine, below, which also describes the one in Dresden.

Dresden - the following link is to an article about a reinforced concrete gas holder in Dresden which has been turned into a art gallery for a panorama - and has renamed the holder as a 'panometer'.
Amsterdam - where a gasholder - one more of type we would recognise is now a feature in a park. Read a wildlife based web site on it and here's the whole story on their web site 
Milan - Bovisa.  What is happening here is more confused - and not helped by the way that some web sites seem to translate 'gas works' as 'gasometer'.  An old holder - of the type we would recognise - seems to be still standing on a site which has now been redeveloped as a Polytechnic.   There seem to have been a number of plans for the holder but the current state is unclear, to me at least.  There seems to be a plan to build a new library which looks like it.  Perhaps someone could clarify this for me.

Florence While I am entirely unsure what at sceneographic nucleus is, and sure its very nice and here is something about the holder there - again one we would recognise

Dublin - this is a bit nearer home, and a holder of a type we would recognise. This is a housing project.

St Petersburg -  a site with several holders is under consideration - information at  and here is another picture

Stockholm - and a plan for data storage centres.

SO - Here we have a ground breaking scheme at Kings Cross where one holder has recently been re-erected and the landmark 'triplets' are to become - well landmarks, and housing. We had a very good presentation from a developer and I wonder if a link to the paper would be possible??
Meanwhile I have been kindly sent the following link to the architects web site

Also - I have been sent information on a campaign in Hornsey to save the gasholder there from destruction, and also something from Edinburgh.

After all - we only invented the things.

PS  My attention has been drawn to the latest edition of the Newcomen Society's 'Links' (9/14).   This describes a Society visit to  Moravia and Silesia - from which the following is an extract:

"the full impact of the Vitkovice Ironworks became clear. Steel-making finished in 1998 on this fully integrated site, with its own coal mine, coke ovens, four blast furnaces, steel-making furnaces and rolling mills. In 1994, nearly 35,000 people worked here and .... it has applied for UNESCO World Heritage Site status.  ............................ The gas-holder has been turned into a concert hall and a reception area for the tour of No 1 blast furnace – the smallest of the four.


Thursday 11 September 2014

A tunnel under the Thames at Woolwich

FOGWOFT has passed to GIHS a number of cuttings about a proposed tunnel under the Thames at Woolwich in the 1870s.  Strangely these are all press reports from the North of England.  GIHS would be glad to hear from anyone who has more information on this tunnel - which was hitherto unknown to us.

The Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser (25th August 1876) says that the tunnel was started at 4 am ‘on Wednesday morning’.   It says the contractors are Messrs Sharpe of Cannon Street under the superintendence of Mr. Gilbert, engineer.   It says nine men were drowned in the fog.

The Sheffield Dally Telegraph (1st September 1876) says in a short report that it is quoting a report in La Revue Nouvelle de l’Architecture et ses Travaux Publique. It says work has already started on the north bank and will take 8-9 months. It says the soil is ‘calcareous’ and this suitable for a tunnel. It says that the reason this ‘subway’ is being started is because of an accident on the Thames in the fog when the ferry was unable to run and eight people were drowned when they tried to cross ‘in a boat’.

Daily Gazette, Middlesborough (13th January 1877). This is a very long and very detailed piece on a very dodgy photocopy – and I am quoting the bare bones of it here. It is headed ‘Engineering Enterprise at Middlesborough’.    Basically it says the work is being done by Messrs. Collins and Thompson (of Middlesborough, of course). It says the machinery is the invention of Mr. Greathead – and it describes the workings of the Greathead Shield – which is well known and the principles behind the method are still those by which underwater tunnels have been built since.

Northampton Mercury (9th June 1977). This point out the need for workers at the Arsenal who live north of the river to have an alternative crossing to the steam ferries.  It will only cost £75,000.  People will be charged 1d. to cross.

Essex Newsman (23rd June 1877) and Chelmsford Chronicle (22nd June 1877).   This says the tunnel is ‘actively proceeding’ . At North Woolwich it is ‘immediately adjoining the station of the Great Eastern Railway Company’ and will terminate at The High Street, Woolwich. It will be 1,800 ft long and will be accessed via ‘an enclosed road’ with an ‘unusually steep gradient’   (1:8) and will be 444 ft long.  The tunnel will lie 25ft-35ft below the river bed and is made up of a circular tube of iron 9 ft in diameter and about 12ft in height.  It should take four people walking abreast.   They add that it will be very useful to take troops and artillery guns across the river.

Portsmouth Evening News (18th March 1879) they say that the work has ‘been in abeyance but has now started. The contract is with Mr. Walker and it will be open for foot traffic

 So – your ideas and information very welcome.  Are there any remains of it under the river somewhere??