HISTORY

The gasholders fit within a wider industrial context of the River Lea. The Lea and its low lying marshland has hosted industrial works for centuries, with its course being much altered to allow for such activity.

Bromley-by-Bow Gasworks was established by the Imperial Gas Light & Coke Company in 1870 for the production and storage of gas.

In the 1960s, activity on the site decreased when North Sea gas was piped into the UK, providing a cheaper and cleaner alternative to the manufacture of coal gas. This is a story that is very common to the gas industry, as the large works were slowly brought to a close.

The Pressure Reduction Station in the south western corner is the only part of the site currently used for the supply of natural gas to homes and businesses in the area. Its role is to manage the transition of the gas from the high pressure required to supply it over long distances to the lower pressure needed for domestic appliances for cooking and heating.

Apart from the Pressure Reduction Station, the site is now redundant, which provides the opportunity for its redevelopment and to be opened up to allow public access.

Timeline

1800

The site was undeveloped, low lying marshland on the River Lea until William Congreve, an artillery officer, scientist and inventor, built a 14-acre rocket factory in the early 1800’s.

1821

The Imperial Gas Light & Coke Company was created in 1821 and initially supplied the suburbs of London north of the Thames. Early in its history the company built three gasworks: St Pancras (built 1822, dismantled 1907); Shoreditch (built 1823, dismantled post-1953); and Fulham (built 1824, and now undergoing redevelopment by St William).

 

Photograph of gasholder No. 2 in Fulham – the oldest surviving gasholder in the world.

1870

In 1870, the Imperial Gas Light & Coke Company began to develop the 170-acre Bromley-by-Bow Gasworks, which partially occupied the site of William Congreve’s military rocket factory.

1872

The Twelvetrees Crescent Bridge was built in 1872 to allow workers, and the supply of coal, to get to the site more easily.

1872

Two retort houses and nine gasholders were built in 1872 to designs by Clark & Kirkham, with two further retort houses added in 1876.

1873

The gasworks became operational in 1873.

1940

Gasholder 3 & 5 sustained bomb damage during WW2. Gasholder 5 was subsequently completely removed and Gasholder 3’s above ground structure was dismantled.

1967

The country’s conversion to North Sea Gas saw the redundancy of many traditional gasworks sites. The gasworks at Bromley-by-Bow were closed in 1976 but the gasholders continued to be used for gas storage.

1984

The gas holders were Grade II listed.

2010

Gasworks were gradually decommissioned across the late 20th century and into the 21st century, with the gasworks at Bromley-by-Bow being decommissioned in 2010.

 

The Pressure Reduction Station is the only part of the site currently used for the supply of natural gas to homes and businesses in the area. Its role is to manage the transition of the gas from the high pressure required to supply it over long distances to the lower pressure needed for domestic appliances for cooking and heating.