Manufactured Gas Industry
This page covers research into the manufactured gas industry and its infrastructure and advice on best practice for their assessment, investigation and recording.
Works for the manufacture of town gas from coal were once widespread and their distinctive gas holders are some of the most recognisable historic industrial structures. Visually they dominated the skylines of many villages, towns and cities. They provided energy for industry and in the home light, heating, and energy for cooking.
Technologically gas works reached their peak in the early 20th century. In the 1960s manufactured gas was displaced by natural gas. Most gas works were closed and cleared at this time, although many holders were retained for gas storage. More recently changes in methods for storing gas have made the remaining holders redundant.
Historic England’s research into gas works
Historic England recognises the important role these works fulfilled in providing the country’s energy needs and their wider cultural impacts as familiar backdrops to many people’s lives.
We commissioned a report into the history of the manufactured gas industry.
We published an 'Introduction to Heritage Assets' guide on gasworks and gasholders.
Investigating and recording historic gas industry sites
To complement this work, especially of those gas works and gas holders facing redevelopment Historic England has prepared guidelines for their evaluation and recording. These guidelines are designed to inform an understanding of their significance, whilst ensuring adequate records (both above and below ground) are made where evidence is likely to be damaged or destroyed.
It will be helpful for the national gas networks, local planning authorities (including archaeological and historic building conservation officers), historic environment consultants and contractors involved in the redevelopment of historic gas sites.