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ENGINEERS have unearthed an 85- year-old discovery at the former Birkshall Gasworks site this month, during the removal of one of Bradford’s oldest gas holders.

Northern Gas Networks (NGN) is currently safely taking down the holders at the Peace Street site, and demolition teams found three time capsules which had been placed inside the structure back in 1937.

Each contains a copy of the Telegraph & Argus newspaper and documents listing the date of the construction and engineering, overseen by the Bradford Gas Corporation and Chief Engineer G.E. Currier.

Mr G.E. Currier, Chief Engineer. Picture courtesy of the Bradford Telegraph & Argus.


The gasworks site was a huge engineering project carried out in the 1930s, which manufactured ‘town gas’ to meet the city’s heating needs, which was then stored inside the three gas holders.

Built by Clayton & Sons, these telescopic constructions were capable of storing 18,000 tonnes of water, which held the gas inside before this was slowly released daily at peak times in line with local energy demand.

Because of advances in technology and the enhanced capability of the modern-day gas network, the three holders have not been used for decades and the decision was taken to remove them and return the land to beneficial use for the local community.

Work to safely dismantle the structures is being carried out by a specialist team and is expected to finish in April.

NGN now wants to trace the family of Mr Currier, and return one of the capsules to them.

“It’s a fascinating collection of items and all are perfectly preserved inside glass jars which were placed inside the holders back in 1937,” said Mark Johnson, Senior Projects Manager at Northern Gas Networks.

“We’ve done some internet research on G.E. Currier, who was clearly a very respected member of the Yorkshire engineering community.

“He died in 1969 aged 74. It feels right that we are able to make contact with his family and return the capsule to them.

“The holder will be removed in the next few weeks so if Mr Currier’s family wanted to visit the site we’d love to show them.”

While the gas holders are part of Britain’s engineering history, NGN is now delivering several projects focused on the readying the gas network to transport clean energy in the future.

Near Gateshead, a local primary school is preparing to bury a time capsule at NGN’s energy innovation site in Low Thornley, where pupils will include their ideas on how the UK will be using energy in 2050 – the official deadline for UK to meet its Climate Change Act emissions commitment of reaching net zero emissions.

NGN’s site is home to the UK’s first hydrogen demonstrator homes where appliances run on 100% hydrogen, heating radiators and water in exactly the same way as any other gas-heated home, but without emitting any carbon dioxide.

“The gas network has a key role to play in carrying cleaner, green forms of energy to customers in years to come which won’t impact the environment,” said Mark.

“Hydrogen is one of the options we believe will support the UK’s move to a low carbon network, as when it’s burned it only produces heat and water as by-products.

“Our network can carry it in much the same way it carries natural gas, and the research we’re carrying out will ensure it can do this as safely and reliably as it does today.

“We’re hoping to place one of the three Bradford’s time capsules at the Hydrogen Home, so that we can connect the past and the future.”

If you can help trace relatives of G.E. Currier or want to get in contact with NGN about the Birkshall site gas holders, email gasholdermemories@northerngasnetworks.co.uk

Anyone that smells gas or suspects carbon monoxide should call the National Gas Emergency Service immediately on 0800 111 999. This line is in operation 24-hours a day, seven days a week.