In July, the North of England’s gas distributer, Northern Gas Networks, will begin work to dismantle St Anthony’s gas holder in Walker, Newcastle.
Following a community forum which Northern Gas Networks held for local residents earlier this year, Northern Gas Networks’ local Community Artist, Mick Hand has been working with local school children to help preserve the memory of the 112 year old holder, through art.
School children from West Walker Primary School have been painting pictures of the holder which will be exhibited at Pottery Bank Community Centreon Thursday 19 June, with prizes for the winners from each year.
The winners’ paintings will be displayed on banners around the gas holder site throughout the deconstruction process.
Tim Harwood, Programme Manager Major Projects at Northern Gas Networks said; “We are dismantling St Anthony’s gas holder as it no longer serves a purpose in maintaining gas supplies to the local community and the ongoing costs of keeping it in good repair have made it economically unviable.
“While speaking to local residents at our community forum earlier this year we learnt that the gas holder is an important landmark for Walker. To help remember the holder after it has gone our community artist, Mick Hand, has been working with local school children to recreate memories of the holder through art.
“We’re also encouraging local residents and workers to share their memories and photographs of the gas holder, by emailing them to firstname.lastname@example.org or contacting us through Facebook or Twitter. We hope to produce a commemorative book of all of our holders through the decades which will ultimately be available for anyone to download from our website.”
St Anthony’s is a 135ft (41m) tall, steel construction built in 1902 and could store up to 5.4 million cubic feet of gas – enough to supply more than 7000 homes for a full day, or 170,000 homes for an hour. The column-guided design of St Anthony’s gas holder allowed three separate massive diameter sections to lift telescopically as the holder filled with gas.
For around 100 years the holder was a vital part of the local gas supply system, responsible for supplying gas to thousands of residents in the area. In more recent years it has been used to bolster the network’s gas supplies during colder weather, and at peak times in the early evenings. Advances in technology and the enhanced capability of the modern-day gas network, however, mean that this gas holder is no longer required.
As part of the deconstruction work, a number of environmental initiatives are being considered such as treating and solidifying the oily sludge that has settled at the bottom of the gasholder tank, recycling all the steel and wraught iron from the gasholder and re-using the spoil dug up from Northern Gas Networks essential gas mains replacement works in the area, to backfill the site. This helps to reduce Northern Gas Networks’ carbon footprint, saving trips to landfill sites and the need to import expensive stone from local quarries.
The UK’s gasholders were originally built to store gas made from coal at a local gasworks. With the discovery of North Sea gas, the gas holders increasingly became redundant and were eventually phased out as new gas pipelines were laid to supply gas to homes.