Gasholder No. 8

Overview

Heritage Category:
Listed Building
Grade:
II
List Entry Number:
1423467
Date first listed:
28-Jan-2015
Location Description:
TQ2993083677, Gas Holder Park and Canal Reach South, King's Cross, London

Map

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Location

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Location Description:
TQ2993083677, Gas Holder Park and Canal Reach South, King's Cross, London
County:
Greater London Authority
District:
Camden (London Borough)
Parish:
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:
TQ2992983677

Summary

Gasholder guide frame, originally built in 1883 to the design of the engineer John Clark by the contractor Westwood and Wright for the Gas Light and Coke Company. Relocated from the original gasworks, about 300m to the south, following the expansion of St Pancras Railway Station when the gasholder tank was buried or demolished and the bell destroyed. The guide frame was dismantled in about 2001, restored by Shepley Engineers, and re-erected surrounding a park on the site in 2014. Pursuant to s.1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’) it is declared that the modern brick plinth on which the structure stands is not of special architectural or historic interest.

Reasons for Designation

Gasholder No 8, a gasholder guide frame originally built in 1883 to the design of the engineer John Clark at the St Pancras Gasworks is listed at Grade II, for the following principal reasons:

* Historic interest: as a remnant of one of London’s major C19 gas works and a reminder of the former industrial use of the urban site; * Aesthetic interest: by their nature gasholders are prominent landmarks, and this is a striking example with the utilitarian structure enriched with classical detailing.

History

Gas lighting derived from coal was invented in the 1790s and from 1816 it took off in London and then spread nationally. Gasworks comprised coal stores, retort houses for the extraction of gas, plant to remove impurities, gasholders, and administrative buildings. The water-sealed type of gasholder was adopted from the earliest times, comprising a bell (gas vessel) open at the bottom and placed in a water-filled tank, so as to seal in the gas, rising or falling vertically according to the volume of gas being stored.

The Imperial Gas Light and Coke Company was established in 1821 and initially focussed on London’s suburbs north of the Thames. At first, the company employed the pioneering engineer Samuel Clegg as consultant and he advised that gasworks should be built along the Regent’s Canal, allowing coal barges to be directly unloaded to the coal stores of each gasworks. Gasworks were constructed at Shoreditch in 1823 and St Pancras in 1824. A design plan for the latter indicates that 12 gasholders were intended for the site. A detailed history of Gasholder No 8 and the site where it was built is given by Miele (1996 - see sources). In 1860 additional land was purchased to the north of Wharf Road (later called Goods Way) to allow for expansion; this land adjoined an area of poor quality housing originally developed by William Agar and the gasholders built upon it became known as the Agar Town station. In the 1860s the St Pancras gasworks continued to be the largest gasworks in the country, and probably the world, with a large number of retorts and two groups of gasholders built on either side of Wharf Road. However, in 1876 the Imperial Gas Light and Coke Company was amalgamated with the Gas Light and Coke Company. Staff numbers at the former Imperial gasworks at Fulham, St Pancras and Shoreditch were subsequently reduced. The St Pancras gasworks stayed active until 1904 but then closed with a subsequently brief revival in 1907 before it became a gas storage station with gas pumped from the Gas Light and Coke Company’s enormous gasworks at Beckton.

Gasholder No 8 was first erected in about the 1850s. The tank was repaired by the engineer John Clark in 1868. In 1883 the guide frame was rebuilt and the tank deepened by two feet to reach a depth of 28 feet.

Gasholder No 8 and The Triplet (a modern name for the three conjoined gasholders: No 10, 11 and 12) were listed at Grade II in 1986. They were relocated to the current site from the original one, about 300m to the south, following the expansion of St Pancras Railway Station for the Channel Tunnel rail link. The tanks were buried or demolished, the bells destroyed and the guide frames dismantled in about 2001 and then restored by Shepley Engineers in their Yorkshire workshop. The guide frame of Gasholder No 8 was re-erected in 2014 to enclose a small park (‘Gasholder Park’) by Bell Phillips Architects and Dan Pearson Studio within which was set a mirrored circular pergola; the reflections providing a kaleidoscope of views of the surroundings. The guide frame of The Triplet was re-erected alongside it in 2018 to surround new apartment blocks designed by WilkinsonEyre architects. The apartment blocks were built to varying heights, serving as a reminder that the gasholder bells in this position originally moved as they were filled or emptied of gas. The relocation of the gasholder guide frames were part of the wider King’s Cross regeneration project, following the decision to move the Channel Tunnel rail link in 1996. A masterplan was formed after several years of studies and public consultation, and in 2008 the Kings Cross Central Partnership was created between the developer Argent, London and Continental Railways and DHL. Located on the site of the former rail and industrial premises, including the Grade II-listed coal drops and the Granary, the redevelopment involved the restoration of historic buildings and the construction of new buildings. The 67 acre site included 3.4 million square feet of office space, 2000 new residential units, retail and leisure space, a hotel and educational facilities, as well as new squares and gardens, such as Granary Square, Lewis Cubbitt Park and Gasholder Park, forming a new public realm for Central London.

Details

Gasholder guide frame, originally built in 1883 to the design of the engineer John Clark by the contractor Westwood and Wright for the Gas Light and Coke Company. Relocated from the original gasworks, about 300m to the south, following the expansion of St Pancras Railway Station when the gasholder tank was buried or demolished and the bell destroyed. The guide frame was dismantled in about 2001, restored by Shepley Engineers, and re-erected surrounding a park on the site in 2014.

MATERIALS: cast-iron columns and wrought-iron girders.

DESCRIPTION: a circular gasholder guide frame comprising two tiers of cast-iron columns joined by horizontal wrought-iron lattice girders (‘Type 14’ in Tucker’s typology of gasholders). The lowest tier of columns is in the Doric order and the topmost in a simplified version of the Corinthian. Each column supports an entablature bearing the classical sequence of mouldings; all rise to a cornice but the Doric order supports a triglyph and the Corinthian a frieze and then a dentilled cornice. The columns are made of shorter sections which are bolted together on the inside. The capitals and entablature blocks also conceal joints at the head of each tier. At the bottom of the lower columns are plaques stating the date at which the gasholder guide frame was first erected: 1883. Attached to the inside edge of each column are the guide rails for the roller carriages upon which the bell of the gasholder originally rose (filled with gas) and fell (emptied). The roller carriages have been retained and are adjoined to the guide rails. The columns are linked together at the level of the entablature blocks by I-section 60 degree-triple-warren lattice girders, which are fabricated from sections of flat plate and angle that are riveted together.

This list entry was subject to a Minor Amendment on 11/03/2020

Sources

Books and journals
Smith, D, Civil Engineering Heritage: London and the Thames Valley, (2001), 203
Other
Malcolm Tucker, English Heritage. London Gasholders Survey: the Development of the Gasholder in London in the Later Nineteenth Century, December 2002
Miele, C, 1996 English Heritage Report: Gasholders Nos 8, 10, 11 and 12, St. Pancras Station, Battle Bridge Road and Goods Way
Volatile Heritage: St Pancras Gasholders in English Heritage Conservation Bulletin pages 82-3

Legal

This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

The listed building(s) is/are shown coloured blue on the attached map. Pursuant to s.1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’), structures attached to or within the curtilage of the listed building (save those coloured blue on the map) are not to be treated as part of the listed building for the purposes of the Act.

End of official listing

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