Later this month, there is a chance to go on a tour of the decommissioned gasholders that dominate the view from the trains passing through West Ham station.
The gasworks was established here by the Imperial Gas Imperial Gas Light & Coke Company in 1870. However, changes to the way gas is supplied to homes and businesses led to most of the original site being redeveloped, and the gasholders being decommissioned later in 2010. The site is now being earmarked for housing development, but while the developers work on the plans and hold consultations they are occasionally opening up the gasworks site to the public.
The first tours took place last year, and now they’ve announced a third set of free tours that will take place on Tuesday 21st and Saturday 25th February.
The tours are free and can be booked from here.
Based on the last year’s tours, there’s a gentle wander around the site looking at the heritage and hearing about some of the plans for the site, particularly the bomb-damaged gasholder that’s now a very deep lake. There’s also a walk across the road to look at the memorials in the garden opposite, with their gas lamps that burn all day in memory of the war dead.
It’s a fairly rare chance to visit a vanishing aspect of London – its industrial heritage before it’s turned into more houses and flats, to wander around an eerie landscape that’s a mix of industrial and rioting wildlife slowly reclaiming the land.
The tours start at the gasholders site, look for the gate on Twelvetrees Crescent at the junction just over the bridge. The entrance is about a 10-minute walk from Bromley-by-Bow tube station. Use the subway outside the tube station to get under the main road, then walk south to the junction with Twelvetrees Crescent, and then it’s a few minutes to walk over the river bridge and meet at the junction where the gasworks are – location map here.
The tours are only available for people aged 18+ and full PPE will be required. That will be provided but they ask if you can bring your own if you have it (hard hat, high vis jacket, gloves and safety glasses). They’ll contact you for shoe sizes after you book a ticket, and I would recommend arriving at least 15 minutes early to put on the boots and get into hi-vis jackets for the tour.
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