An iconic structure that has been a feature of Wortley’s skyline since the 1950s is to finally disappear – but not before local people have the chance to commemorate it.
Northern Gas Networks (NGN), the gas distributor for the North of England, has started work to safely dismantle and remove the gas holder on Wellington Road.
Because of advances in technology and the enhanced capability of the modern-day gas network, the holder has not been used for decades and is costly to maintain.
It is one of the last structures left standing at a site that has a dramatic but largely forgotten history, reflecting our industrial heritage and our national story.
The gas holder is part of a site that was built by the Leeds Gas Light Company in the 1820s. In 1890, the gas works were at the centre of a strike when the management tried to cut hours and pay, and strike-breakers were brought in, resulting in rioting by workers.
Many on both sides were injured and it took the reading of the Riot Act and the threat of troops being used against the strikers for them to disperse.
During the Second World War, the gas works sustained damage during an air raid when an incendiary bomb exploded nearby, after which many of the buildings on the site were strengthened to withstand any further attack.
This remaining tank was Holder No.5 on the site. Works started to build the holder in 1954 and it is a riveted construction, with a welded floor.
Work to safely dismantle the holder is now being carried out by a specialist team and is expected to finish next February.
Customers living and working nearby have been contacted by NGN, giving them information about the project.
NGN recognises the importance these giant structures hold for local communities and is keen to preserve memories of the holder, through letters, stories, drawings, diaries and photographs, for publication on its website and social media channels.
Local residents are being encouraged to share their memories of the holder by emailing email@example.com or by posting at Facebook/northerngasnetworks and @NGNgas on Twitter.
Mark Johnson, Senior Project Manager from NGN’s Capital Projects team, said: “For around 100 years, gas holders were a vital part of the local gas supply system, responsible for storing manufactured coal gas which was supplied to thousands of people across the region.
“However, advances in technology and a move towards renewables and greener alternatives to natural gas means that gas holders are no longer used. The holders have become expensive to maintain, and a phased programme of removal, both in the North of England and across the UK, has been underway for several years.
“The Wortley gas holder has been a feature on the local skyline for over a century. It is a familiar sight to local people, who have grown up with it always being there. That’s why we are encouraging residents to commemorate the gas holder before it disappears from the skyline.”
NGN is committed to taking down its gas holders in an environmentally responsible way, by recycling as many materials as possible.
The project will also be registered as Considerate Constructors Scheme site, following key principles to ensure minimal impact on the environment, customers and community, while observing the highest standards of safety.
Anyone that smells gas or suspects carbon monoxide should call the National Gas Emergency Service on 0800 111 999. This line is in operation 24 hours a day, seven days a week.