Residents First

Tower Hamlets People Network

GASHOLDER SPECIAL SIX: BETHNAL GREEN


The two gasholders on the Regents Canal are under threat from a development by St William Homes (Berkeley Homes and National Grid). The smaller No. 2 gasholder was built in 1866, the larger No. 5 gasholder in 1888-9.

CLICK THE BUTTON ABOVE AND SIGN

So far, 1433 people have signed the EEWG petition to St William Homes, for which many thanks. However, we need many more signatures.

Instead of having to look through two previous newsletters for background information, condensed information has been set out in the following REASONS FOR SIGNING …

But first, a cross-sectional drawing to show the three main parts of a traditional gasholder (in-ground tank, bell and guide frame, which are mentioned in the petition and the reasons); and indicate the up and down movements of the bell as it filled with gas and emptied as the gas was forced and drawn into the gas mains.

Gasholder

 

There were two adjacent vertical pipes (between the in-ground tank wall and the lowered bell) with open ends above the level of the water in the in-ground tank. Gas was pumped via the inlet pipe into the domed part of the bell’s inner telescopic lift, causing the lift to rise; and the stored gas passed into the gas mains via the outlet pipe.

The up and down movements of the bell were guided and supported by the guide frame with its guide rails on the insides of the columns (or the standards in a lattice girder guide frame, like the No. 5 at Bethnal Green). The rim of the domed part of the bell’s inner telescopic lift had roller carriages with double-flanged rollers which ran up and down the guide rails; and there were flanged rollers on the sides of the lifts below the carriage rollers.

REASONS FOR SIGNING THE EAST END WATERWAY PETITION TO ST WILLIAM HOMES

Number5No. 2 Gasholder at Bethnal Green, built 1865-66

This is the second-oldest surviving gasholder in the world and we want its columnar guide frame (which is the earliest and most ‘classical’ surviving example of its type in the world) retained and conserved in situ on its original in-ground brick tank (being retained by St William) for reuse as a ‘gasholder park’.
in-situ conservation would only cost £1.4m rather than St William’s Local Plan estimate of £10m for off-site conservation, which could also damage the cast-iron parts of the frame and require the joints in the columns to be reinforced with mild steel bands*
in-situ conservation on the original in-ground brick tank (with the top of the tank wall exposed between the bases of the columns) would retain the structural integrity and significance of the historic gasholder, and the open appearance of the columnar guide frame would ensure that the gasholder continues to make a full positive contribution to the Regent’s Canal Conservation Area.
• grassed open space within the open columnar guide frame would respect the gasholder and would extend and enhance the proposed central public open space by linking it with the Regent’s Canal

Number5 No. 5 Gasholder at Bethnal Green, built 1888-89

This is one of the few surviving gasholders built by the world-renowned local firm of Samuel Cutler & Sons of Millwall and we want its lattice guide frame (which is as built 1888-89, whereas the Grade-II-listed 1879 gasholder at Kennington was extensively and unsympathetically altered 1890-1891) retained and conserved in situ on its original in-ground concrete tank (being retained by St William) for St William’s two proposed blocks (to be built inside the retained and conserved guide frame, like the Alliance gasholder at Dublin).
in-situ conservation would only cost £3.6m rather than St William’s Local Plan estimate of £10m for off-site conservation, which could also require reinforcement before or during re-erection*
in-situ conservation on the original in-ground concrete tank (with the top of the tank wall exposed between the bases of the standards) would retain the structural integrity and significance of the historic gasholder, and well-designed blocks (to enhance the elegant appearance of the lattice guide frame and create maximum visibility between and above the two blocks) are needed to ensure that the gasholder makes a substantial positive contribution to the Regent’s Canal Conservation Area

NB The insurance and redecoration costs for both gasholder guide frames (and their relocated roller carriages) could be included in the annual service charges applied to the non-affordable flats.

*For information on the in-situ conservation costs (or repair costs) see page 11 and Appendices F and G in the Feasibility Study (Revision F) prepared by Paul Latham of The Regeneration Practice. The more expensive and less conservative method of off-site conservation for the so-called ‘retention’ of the gasholders would, according to St William, cost “in the region of £10m per gasholder” (LBTH response to Main Matter 10 August 2018).