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Friday, 23 June 2017

Converted gas holders round the world


Brisbane. A  water-sealed gas holder remains on the site of Newstead Gasworks. The remnants of the holder and guide framing are listed and is now a feature in a new park. See article

Vienna - Simmering - This is in four large gasholder houses which were built in 1896-1899 and used until 1986.  They could be described as four Albert Halls in a row! A competition was held in 1995 and four architects were chosen and each of them was given a gasholder building to adapt. Thus they are flats, offices and leisure uses. There are shops on the ground floors. Vienna holders and  the review of their reuse as a shopping mall, each with a different designer and the web site


Rabot, Ghent. There are two listed guide frames of water sealed gasholders. See article


Ostrava, North Moravia. At the Vitkovice steelworks a gas holder which held blast furnace gas has been converted into a multifunctional auditorium called the Gong – it is a place where education, cultural events, conferences, congresses and all kinds of exhibitions are held.  It has excellent acoustics. Built 1922-24, this holder went out of use in 1998 and opened as a concert hall in 2012.  See article  and also see


Hobro Gasworks - a gas museum. This gasworks was built in 1898 and produced gas until 1967. The two gasholders were used for gas storage until 1986. It is now the Hobro is now the home of the Danish Gas Museum, which was started in 1995 by the employees of Hovedstadsregionens Naturgas, the company with the largest coal-gas works in the country..  Exhibition space has been created within the gas works buildings.  See

Denmark Oestre Gasveark Teater, Copenhagen  a renovated gasholder building houses the city theatre with facilities housed in a new extension, connected to the theatre by a tunnel.. Toilets, workshops and other support facilities are beneath the stage.  See


Suvilahti, Helsinki –there are nine buildings including , two large gasholders.. It is intended that a cultural centre will be formed as the buildings are renovated and tenants move in. Suvilahti is already an established venue for new circus and other performing arts. Helsinki City Museum has identified Suvilahti as an important site in terms of its architecture and significance for the city. See

Turku. a gasholder house here built in 1913 was saved by the local power company Turku Energia and it is now used as a thermal battery for the district heating network storing hot water. The gasholder house contains tanks which can hold several million litres of water at 100 oC.  Public spaces have also been created inside the building and it past it has been used for music events.  See


Augsburg. Gaswerks.  Part of this 1915 gasworks has been preserved and includes a museum. Coal gas production ended here in 1968 but natural gas was used by 1978 and the four gasholders remained in use until 2001. Three of them are still there as are most of the 1915 buildings. . Ausburg was the location of the company Maschinenfabrik Augburg-Nürnberg (M.A.N.) - hence the M.A.N. dry gasholder which they invented many of which were built around the world. The preserved example here is the oldest of this type - it is both the first dry gasholder and also the smallest. Gaswerksfreunde Augsburg e.V.' have a gas Museum inside this Gasworks

Berlin. This is a relic from the Second World War. It was originally a  gasholder building designed by civil engineer Johann Wilhelm Schwedler in 1874 with a brick shell 21 metres high and 56 metres in diameter. The holder was inside and used until the 1920s. It was later reinforced and used as a six-level air raid shelter - known as  the Fichte Bunker. It is Berlin's last remaining brick gasholder building and there are now flats under the dome.

DresdenA gas holder house here from 1879 - 80 is now an art gallery. This exhibits a panorama of Dresden in 1756 - as seen from the Katholische Hofkirche. This is called a 'Panometer', by artist Yadegar Asisi and it conflates 'panorama' and 'gasometer'. It is almost ten stories highand had over 500,000 visitors in it first two years. There is also a large reinforced concrete gas holder built in 1907 - 08. It is named after the Dresden local authority architect - the Erlwein Gasometer,

Duisberg  Tauchrevier Gasometer- indoor diving centre. This single-lift gasholder with a guide frame was built in the 1920s. The tank has been converted into an indoor diving centre with the original bell still in place which as a dome over the pool. This is said to be the largest such diving centre in Europe with a tank which holds 21 million litres of water. It is in Landscape Park Duisburg Nord which was once a steel works.

Leipzig. The gasholders here relate to Leipzig's 1885 gasworks in Richard-Lehmann-Straße. . There were once four gasholders here but only two survive built in 1885 and 1909-10. They were used until 1977. The later holder is now an exhibition centre and has a long running special exhibition - the Asisi panometers. These are 360 degree panoramas by Yadegar Asisi on subjects like Mount Everest, Ancient Rome, or the Great Barrier Reef. attraction.

Germany Oberhausen - This is a MAN type holder 120 metres high and is now an important cultural centre. Built 1927-29 it is the largest of its kind in Europe. It was decommissioned in 1988. Described as 'the landmark of the city of Oberhausen' - it has become 'an entire region's identification sign that cannot be overlooked'.  Web site  - and its size  - and tourism potential  and even more  and its history

Schöneberg. This is a large water sealed gasholder built 1908-10 with a capacity of 160,000 cubic metres and it is local landmark. A structure which is like the German Reichstag dome was built at the bottom of the tank in 2009 and inaugurated by Chancellor Angela Merkel and is used as an event space. A TV political talk show is broadcast from it.. For 30 Euros customers can climb 78 metres to the top of the gasholder frame via 456 steps. See here  and also see here  and also see here and also here  and here and here  and here  and here  and, at last, here


Technopolis – Athens. The Athens Gasworks was built in 1857 by the French Gas Light Company.It is near the city centre and Acropolis and was redeveloped in the 1980s impressively restored as an industrial museum and cultural centre – the Technopolis. This is a Museum which aims to highlight both the work’s history and the industrial development of Athens over the last two centuries. It is dedicated to the memory of the Greek composer Manos Hatzidakis and is also known as 'Gazi Technopolis Manos Hatzidakis'. Exhibitions, seminars, music concerts and other cultural activities take place here. Eight of the buildings have been named after Greek poets and there is a museum dedicated to the opera singer Maria Callas.

See and See


Dublin. A water sealed holder is now used for flats. The holder, called the Alliance, was built here in 1884 by S Cutler and Sons of London; the guide frame has been fully restored and repainted, within which has been built a circular nine-storey 240 apartment residential building with a central light well.  See 


Turin – Vanchigilia. 'Societa anonima per l`illuminazione della città di Torino a Gaz' was founded in 1837 and Turin became the first Italian city to be lit by gas. Two water sealed gasholders survive in Vanchiglia from the third gasworks here.  One is a three-lift telescopic gasholder from 1911 built */here to the designs of Samuel Cutler & Sons of London. It’s the water tank is partly underground and there are surrounding earth banks. The other gasholder was to a German patent design by August Klönne of Dortmund built in 1930.  and had a capacity of 50,000 cubic metres. Next to the gasholders is the new university 'Campo Luigi Einaudi' which has lecture rooms with spectacular views of both gasholders. The gasholders are on land belonging to the local power supply company and are overlooked by the university. See

Milan - Bovisa.  two complete water-sealed gasholders are preserved nere.: One to a Samuel Cutler of London design dates from 1905 and the other is a Klönne-dating from 1930 and both have four lifts.

Trieste – Broletto. There is a gasholder building here which dates from 1901 with, it is thought, its underground water tank inside the building.. The outside is now protected as a cultural monument. a proposal for conversion into a planetarium and museum of astronomy has not proceeded. See and also see  and also see

Venice – San Francesco della Vigna. This is close to the walls of the Arsenal amd was the first gasworks in Venice. There are two water sealed gasholders here. One dates from 1882 and is listed as a monument. The other dates from 1928.Demolition was proposed but did not take place owing to local protest. 

Bologna – Porta Mascarella. There is a MAN gasholder next to the railway: It dates from 1930 and went out of use in 1960,. It is and is now an industrial monument owned by the City. See

Florence – San Frediano. Only one historic gasholder remains here, an original bell-type holder built in 1882 by 'V-Ve-Moussy-Constructeur-Lyon'. The the guide frame has columns have a circular cross section and at the top terminate in an ornamental 'flame' decoration. Today a public park surrounds this gasholder, which is now part of a social centre. See

Rome – San Paolo. There are four water sealed gasholders whose guide frames and water tanks have survived By the Tiber in zona San Paolo In 1908 two telescopic gasholders were built here under a patent of Samuel Cutler & Sons of London. Both had a capacity of 25,000 cubic metres.  A third Cutler-type followed in 1912 with a capacity of 60,000 cubic metres. All of them have water tanks which are partially underground. One is the tallest holder in Italy and now called 'luxometro', it is an art installation, it is illuminated at night and described by a film maker as a wonderful industrial Coliseum. The other gasholders have been repaired and re-used by their owner 'ITALGAS' for warehousing, parking, etc. the guide frames are seen as an important part of the cityscape. See  and also see and also see

Riga. The first gasworks in Latvia opened here in 1862 and was designed by the technical director of the Berlin gasworks. It had two castellated gasholder buildings which were admired and shown on postcards but they were demolished in 1934. The rest of the complex survives and  is the offices of Riga’s water supply company . A second gasworks opened in 1875.amd a gasholder building designed by the A Hartmann dates from 1882 and a larger older designed by K Felsko dates from 1901.  Both of these gasholder buildings are protected as cultural monuments. And the larger one was refurbished in 1997.


Dunedin, South Island. Here the guide frame of a water sealed gasholder is listed. This It is part of t Dunedin Gasworks Museum with a preserved engine house, a working boiler house and fitting shop. There are five stationary steam engines and also displays of domestic and industrial gas appliances.  See 


Lisbon Matinha Gasworks. The remains of four water sealed gasholders built in 1940 survive. They went out of use in 1967. The area is to be a wildlife garden inside a gasholder with landscape features. See and see and see and see and see and see


Gdansk.  The guide frame of a water sealed gasholder survives here.
Warsaw Two gasholders from 1888 and 1890 survive next to a gasworks museum here. They were damaged by in the Second World War and rebuilt in 1945. Gas production ended in 1978 and it is intended to refurbish them. See and see and see


St Petersburg - a site with several holders is under consideration. These date from 1858 and are near the Obvodny Canal.  See and see and see and see and see

Moscow. There are gasholder buildings near the Kursky railway terminus. This is an arts complex with night clubs, offices known as the Arma gasworks and a row of four brick gasholder buildings survive here. At least one gasholder building in Moscow has been fully converted. See and see


Oviedo. A water sealed gasholder built 1958-61 survives in the centre of the city close to the cathedral, which is  a World Heritage Site. The gasholder frame was listed in 2001 and is now a cultural feature.

Barcelona. The guide frame of a water sealed gasholder designed by Claudi Gil Serra in 1868 remains in Barceloneta Park. The gas works itself was demolished in 1989. See  and see


Värtan Stockholm. at Norra Djurgårdsstaden an old dockland area is being redeveloped - The Royal Seaport development. Central to this is a gas works, Värtagasverket, which is tobe turned into a cultural centre. There are four low pressure gasholders, two redbrick gasholder houses, , a steel multi-lift holder built in 1912 and a large MAN piston-type holder dating from 1932.  Plus a spherical high pressure gasholder. the main stage of the Royal Swedish Opera will transform oe of te gasholder houses into a 950-seat auditorium.  Ballet, opera, art, a library and a museum are all planned for this area. There are also plans for a data storage centre inside a  1893 gasholder building. See and see and see and see and see and see and see

Gefle Gasverks,  a complete gas works here has two gasholder houses, now used for theatre performances. Support facilities are underground and in the surrounding buildings. They are used by independent theatre groups and organisers of fairs and similar events. See


Amsterdam. There are thirteen heritage buildings here in 'Westergasfabriek'. originally designed by the Amsterdam architect Isaac Gosschalk Westergasfabriek is now 'Culture park Westergasfabriek', with parkland, TV studios and a large circular gasholder which hosts trade fairs. See

Monday, 19 June 2017

Oil Gas

There were some curiosities in the great world of gas manufacture. We tend to think of ‘town gas’ as having been made from coal. This was really only because coal was cheap and easy to get in bulk. In the earliest day of the gas industry - when gas lighting was ‘invented’ by Lebon - wood was sometimes used as a raw material and after that a number of industrialists began to develop gas made from oil. Oil had been used for street lighting for many years and an infrastructure for getting it existed. Oil came from whales hunted in the Arctic and Antarctic seas but also from more mundane sources - tallow imported from Russia, for instance. It was thus seen as expedient to produce gas from oil and use a raw material which was readily available.

Oil Gas has been mentioned several times before here - in particular about the gas works at Hawes soap works. It is a subject, which, if properly written up, would take much more space than the whole of this book times ten. Gas for lighting has been made from all sorts of materials - not just from coal. In the early 1820s, a number of public supply gas works used oil as a raw material. The process was patented by John Taylor in 1815. Taylor is one of those Georgian engineers/entrepreneurs who set out to exploit, and change, the world in a variety of ways. He has been described as 'the foremost mining engineer in Europe' but he sometimes described himself as 'manufacturing chemist of Stratford'.

I have never been able to track down John's Stratford chemical works and the actual inventor of the oil gas process was his brother Philip, who lived, before 1824, in Bromley by Bow and was a chemist who had taken out a string of patents. There were several other brothers, all in key positions. Members of the Taylor family - John and Philip in particular - turn up in many episodes of early nineteenth century industrial history.

Any oil could be used for gas production and it was thus useful for scrap from the soap and other oil based industries, including oils and fats replaced by coal as the raw material for street lighting. The oil was liquefied and trickled down a hot metal pipe. The resulting gas was cooled and collected. It then went through a red hot iron pipe to a gas holder. Oil gas lacked the sulphur compounds found in coal gas, it thus was not thought to need purification and it was promoted as both safer and cleaner.

John Taylor and his partner, John Martineau had an engineering works at Whitecross Street just north of the City, moving to Winsor Ironworks in the City Road. They made a range of equipment, including steam engines, printing, and sugar refining machinery - chapters could be written about all of these. Oil gas making equipment was produced and supplied on a franchise basis - mainly in whaling areas, Edinburgh, Hull, Bristol, Liverpool, and so on. London was, of course, also a major whaling centre.

It is clear by the mid-1820s that a war had developed between the oil gas and coal gas interests. The Parliamentary Enquiry into the London and Westminster Oil Gas Bill brought out a glittering array of contemporary scientific opinion and a propaganda campaign outside the courtroom.

The oil gas enquiry had been foreshadowed a few years previously by an insurance claim in respect of an explosion in the east London sugar works of Severn and King. This had involved equipment designed by a Daniel Wilson who worked for Aaron Manby. The equipment involved a technique, which was very similar to that used in preparing oil gas. Wilson and Manby were both better known for their gas making equipment and later went to France where they were involved in the Paris gas industry. The same scientists gave evidence to both enquiries.

Oil Gas was presented as cleaner and safer than coal gas but the sub-text was about the economic interests of the suppliers of the raw material - coal or oil.

Blue Billy

The foul effluent became known as 'blue billy', mention of which awakened in 'old engineers ..... recollections of troubles and prosecutions'. It was a waste product but could not be sold like tar and liquor. The available means of disposal were all undesirable and led to constant complaints. Attempts were made to use it as a source of useful products. As early as 1816 one of the Chartered Directors, Mr. Warren, collaborated with Clegg on sulphur reclamation from spent lime through a special kiln. This liaison with 'outsiders' continued - in 1842 the Imperial Company made a contract with Frank Hills to remove blue billy 'for the purposes of his trade'. Frank Hills was a resourceful industrial chemist who had once again found a means to make an economical product while not being prepared to make its details public.

In the early years 'blue billy' seems to have been stored in tanks on site. All three of the Chartered's works were land locked and everything had to be transferred in and out by road - coal, chemicals, blue billy. Before 1848 sewers in London were managed on an individual basis by special Boards of Commissioners that had been set up in Tudor times and who levied rates in the area which the sewer served. Commissioners of Sewers took action to prevent gas industry wastes using their systems without approval. Generally, such wastes were not allowed to enter the sewage system.

Prevented from using the sewers the Chartered Company decided to put liquid waste directly into the Thames. They had to get permission for this from the relevant Committee which oversaw Navigation on the Thames. In return for a fee, permission was given for a pipe to be laid into the Thames from the Peter Street, Westminster, works. The company also considered buying land from which a ditch ran to the Thames and where liquid waste could be dumped.

A number of complaints began to come from local businesses and residents. In 1817 the Chartered received a complaint from a Mr. Winter who had a japanned leather works in Peter Street. This was accompanied by another from a Mr. Cooper whose wife was enduring the smell while nursing a new baby. Michael Faraday was called in as a consultant to examine the seepage. Complaints continued for many years - in 1822 lime water was still getting into neighbouring premises, and Mr. Minton, a patent oil silk manufacturer complained about it.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Thomas Dalton and the Poplar Tar Works

To return to the Chartered Gas Company's Poplar Tar Works, closed as a failure and sold to Turner, Shakell and Hopkinson….. who were Turner, Shakell and Hopkinson and what happened to them?

The partnership at Orchard Place does not seem to have lasted very long because later directory entries only mention a Mr. Turner. In 1839 a William Hopkinson was an oil and colourman in The Barbican while Shackell and How were printing ink, varnish makers and oil merchants at Coppice Row, Clerkenwell. Did they find the use of coal tar for varnishes and oils unfruitful and leave the partnership and Mr. Turner in Orchard Place?

Turner had had plans to manufacture 'various articles' from coal tar and had already been using it for ten years when he bought the Orchard Place works and he continued to buy tar from Chartered. Twenty years later, still there, he was in an 'advantageous position' as the 'only varnish maker' in that area. His Roman cement business has been mentioned above. The site was still a tar works in the 1880s and this continued use must indicate some measure of success.
Cassell had taken over the City Gas Company works in the 1820s and stayed in business there, in one form or another, until the early 1860s. Nearly thirty-five years of production from gas industry tar can hardly be called a failure.

These tar distillers were part of a movement in which the material was gradually exploited to make new materials. Several of these uses have been discussed above. The continued existence of these works raises the question as to whether the gas company tar works really failed. Failed tar works were bought by others who made them profitable and were able to help in the exploitation of coal tar by a wide range of industries.

Monday, 30 March 2015


includes George Livesey's Co-partnership ideals. New post (sorry can't load PDFs onto this blog)

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Woolwich gas works dig

I have put on the Greenwich Industrial History blog two old articles, and an old one of mine about three of the Woolwich gas works.

I have also given links there to pictures and information from Historic Woolwich about finds they have made on the Woolwich waterfront in the course of an archaeological dig

Sunday, 23 November 2014


(will add date and source of this in due course. It is early 1890s)
MR. PRESIDENT AND GENTLEMEN: I have been too busy to write a paper, but it has occurred to me to have something to say on the development of the gasholder. This was brought, about by reading the admirable address of Mr. Hunt before the Midland Association, in which I noticed a series of omissions with which I shall deal later on. Your President, in introducing the subject, has used the word evolution of the gasholder. The word I use is development of the gasholder. I cannot understand evolution in connection with it; I cannot understand the gasholder growing out of a shovel or anything of that kind, but I can understand a man, when the necessity arises for something new, devising something to meet that necessity, and I can understand that, as circumstances change the invention may be developed to a ·much greater extent than` was anticipated by the original contriver of the apparatus.

Now, the gasholder today is to all intents and purposes the same in essence and in principle as the first gasholder that was ever made for use on the works. The skeleton diagram shows different sizes of gasholders; there is a little one at the bottom which I assume to have been one of the first gasholders that was made; I daresay it is larger than the first. I take the size - it is an imaginary size - as 12 feet diameter by 12 feet high, but I expect the first gasholder was even smaller than that. The contents of such a gasholder will be about 1200 cubic feet, and the only difference between that and the largest in existence is that the contents of the largest is about ten, thousand times as much as that of the first one that was made --  12,000,000 cubic feet, as against 1,200 cubic feet. The first gasholder, I suppose, was built upon the premises of our friends the Gas Light and Coke Company, and at that time there was no question whatever that they led the world in gasholders and everything else. I do not know when they lost the lead, but they certainly have lost it for a great many years.

The first gasholder I saw was one of the Gas Light and Coke Company’s, in 1838. My father was engaged in the works in Brick Lane. I can remember him taking me to the gas works but my memory of these gasholders is too hazy for me to venture to say anything about them. But I can go back to 1840.  The first gasholder I remember being built was in 1840.   I was playing about the tank, and running along the planks one evening, as I had not got the rhythm of the plank, the next instant I found myself in a puddle at the bottom of the tank, fortunately not hurt. That gasholder cost £35 per thousand cubic feet capacity; and the last one built by the South Metropolitan Gas Company cost £5 per thousand cubic feet capacity, so that there is a great difference in the matter of price. I can remember distinctly the gasholders at the Old Kent Road works in the thirties. The first was a central guided one (No. 1) of 53 feet diameter and 12 feet deep, holding 30,000 cubic feet of gas. In the centre was a cast iron column with a roller at the bottom and a roller at the top; and it was surrounded by a. brick wall to keep it from the wind. Then came another similar holder, a telescope holder holding 44,000 cubic feet. It had a timber frame of really highly scientific geometrical construction, with single timber uprights, but the top beams holding them together were very well contrived indeed. Then came the gasholder I have referred to which was built in 1840. That had a cast-iron frame with tripod standards held together at the top, not by horizontal girders stretching from standard to standard, but by two triangles of girders, making, in fact, a frame that was the strongest, I suppose, that was ever seen for a small gasholder, only holding 60,000 or 70,000 cubic feet. It was a cast iron frame, and it was such that it would almost have held a ship of war from tumbling over.

That is as far as I recollect of the forties; but when we come to the fifties we come to a striking innovation in the manufacture and construction of gasholders by the late Mr. Croll. I have mentioned the telescopic gasholder. I do not know who the originator of .the telescopic holder was, but I think the originator of the telescope was the originator of all our large holders, for without the principle of telescoping it would have been quite impossible to make gasholders such as we have now. Whoever he was, he was a clever and ingenious fellow, and we owe him a debt of gratitude for his contrivance. Mr. Croll had the idea that too much money was being spent on gasholders, and at his works at Bow, for the Great Central Gas Company, and also at Rotherhithe, for the Surrey Consumers Company, he constructed some very light gasholders about the year 1850, upon which, some five and twenty years afterwards, there was an interesting discussion before the old British Association of Gas Managers, Mr. George Anderson taking a part in it with the late Mr. Thomas Hawksley; and it was Thomas Hawksley who used the expression gossamer gas holders in describing these holders at Bow and Rotherhithe. Robert Harris said afterwards: Well, whether you call them gasholders or not, all I can say is they are standing nothing has happened to them. They were untrussed, but that was nothing new, because the first gasholders ever built which were 10 or 12 feet in diameter, must have been untrussed

Then came trussing and large diameters, and then Croll went to considerable diameters without trussing; moreover the guide framing was of a very light character, and these holders stood, and stood well. Up to this time I do know w here the largest gasholder was. The largest gasholder I, can remember was in 1854 - I can go back to 1851. I remember going to see the gasholder built by the late Mr. William Innes, engineer of the Phoenix Gas Company, at the Kennington station. That Kennington station had been the property of the Southwark and Vauxhall Water Company .I suppose where their reservoirs were placed. The Gas Company bought this land containing the reservoir, and, I believe put a gasholder in one of the tanks. I am not sure whether this gasholder Innes built was not the one put in one of the reservoirs. [Mr. May, Richmond, said it was.] That contained 1,400,000 cubic feet, and was the largest gasholder of its time. It was 160 feet in diameter by 35 feet deep, and believe had two lifts. Innes adopted a very singular method of guiding It., Instead of the ordinary cast iron columns, he made a column of thick boiler plate and fixed it at the bottom in a little shallow cast iron socket, and he bolted it by a simple flange to a cast iron plate, and covered it over with sham moulding. Then at the top he just connected them by ties. After the amalgamation of the South Metropolitan we felt uncomfortable with those columns, and we put girders upon them. But the fact that such columns on such all unstable base held as they did for thirty years in a prominent position, exposed to all sorts of winds, without any mishap or any risk of any kind occurring, seems to indicate that very little is necessary to keep a gas holder in its place, and proves, moreover, that the direction in which some had been going was quite mistaken, in building these enormously strong framings.

In 1854 that was the largest gasholder in existence. Then we come to about the year 1860, when the late Robert Jones came upon the field. He was the first to build a gasholder containing about 2,000,000 cubic feet. He built two, one at the Commercial works, where he was engineer, and one at the London works, where he was consulting engineer - at Nine Elms, where they are still in existence, two lift gasholders. But the one at Stepney has been converted into a three lift, making the capacity 3,000,000 cubic feet; and the father of our friend here, Mr: Jones who gave us a paper yesterday, was the man to take the lead, and he built a large holder with contents of 2,000,000 cubic feet.

Well, I will go on with this about the size of gasholders and deal with other matters afterwards.  The next step in size was made by Mr. Thomas Kirkham, of Fulham, and that holder is there now, with a very highly ornate framing, with cast iron columns and cast iron girders, with a lot of tracery. The contents of that holder are about 2,600,000 cubic feet. Then we come to the seventies, and the honour must be given to our friend Mr. Corbet Woodall, who built a large holder at Kennington. He went to about 3,100,000 cubic feet. I think this holder is of 218 feet diameter and 45 feet, deep. That has been converted into a four lift holder since, and the capacity: of 3,000,000 cubic feet has been converted into a capacity of 6, OOO,OOO. But in the case, of that holder we have wrought iron framing - a sort of tripod standard and lattice girders. That was the step to 3,100,000 feet capacity.  Then came the holder in the Old Kent Road, which went to 5,500,000, and which adopted more than had been done before the diagonal system of framing. Now I come to Mr. Hunt’s omissions in his address to the Midland Association. In speaking of gas holders, Mr. Hunt did not say one word about a pair of handsome structures which he put up at Birmingham capable of containing 6,000,000 cubic feet each. In each there is deal of originality of design, particularly in the standards which are exceptionally graceful in strength, with double columns. Mr. Hunt then had to live as the largest gas constructor in the world. After that I think there were several large gasholders made, but the next step was to 8,000,000 cubic feet, at East Greenwich. That is a four lift holder 240 feet in diameter and 45 feet deep, with a very expensive tank. The ground was full of water and a great deal of pumping was required.  The cost of the Old Kent Road holder (the 5,500,000 cubic feet one was about £9 per thousand cubic feet capacity, and in the case of the 8,000,000 one the price only reduced to £8 owing to the expensiveness of the tank.

I ought to have said that Mr. Corbet Woodall’s great holder at Kennington was without internal trussing. It was one of the largest. Mr. Jones at, Stepney was practically without trussing, but Corbet Woodall’s was entirely without it depending entirely on the supporting frame of the tank. The 8,000,000 cubic feet holder at Greenwich, as I say cost about £9 per thousand cubic feet capacity, and also is without trussing. There were several other 8,000,000 feet holders, built (some by our. friends, the Chartered, and others at Glasgow); and then we come to the largest size, 12,000,000 cubic feet, at Greenwich with a shallow tank, 300 feet in diameter, by 30 feet in depth.

I should like to say a word here with reference to my, brother. It was his idea to construct a shallow tank. After the construction of the first tank at East Greenwich it occurred to him that it would be a great saving if we could build a tank without pumping. We adopted the idea, excavating down as far as the water would allow; in fact, until we reached water and made up, the height above ground. So we there have a tank 30 feet deep only for a holder 300 feet in diameter. To meet the difficulty of guiding such a holder we had to devise a special system of guide rollers for the inner lift to prevent it tilting. We combined the English and the French systems - the English radial with the French tangential roller top and bottom - and we think we have succeeded in making it safe for filling and emptying the top lift. I am not sure whether it would not be, better (to make perfectly sure with these shallow holders and top lifts going above the framing) to adopt Pease’s wire rope guiding as well as rollers
Now we come to one or two other points about gasholders. First thing is with regard to the framing. I believe the builders of gasholders were mortally afraid of going up in height, and you can see at some of the old works, as I have, single lift holders with these enormously strong tripods as guides. They all seem to have had an idea that it was dangerous to go high, and I believe that was why preference was given to the single lift and the man who first introduced a telescope holder was a bold one. The most notable advance in telescopic holder building was made by the late William Mann -I am afraid my friends do not remember him. He was universally respected, and he was a man of whom I never heard a single word of disparagement. When he was engineer of the City gasworks at Blackfriars he was very much cramped for room and there was nothing for it but to go up. He then built a three lift holder. It was one of the finest objects to be seen on the left hand side crossing over Blackfriars Bridge. It was 100 feet high, 84 feet in diameter, had three lifts of something over 30 feet each, and stood in an iron tank somewhat above the ground. Here I think the diagonal bracing was introduced in a scientific and thorough manner, and it is the first instance I ever recollect of its being so used; all that was some time in the sixties. It was used as a development in the gasholder in order to make it safe in going to such unwonted height as 100 feet. That, I consider, was a most important step in the construction of telescopic gasholders. 

Mr MAY (Richmond) That framing, it may be interesting to you to know, was reerected at Calcutta.  

Mr. LIVESEY: In the early days it was the great object to have as little pressure as possible. Gasholders were made light and, of large diameter, consequently giving very little pressure. Then when they came to adopt the telescopic method, they had balance weights to balance all three points and to keep the top level. They seem to have been very much afraid of going up; but at any rate we have got past that ere now and it was only a development to meet the size, and to meet the enormous advance in the gas production,

 The first curb was a small angle iron, and nothing else. When you come to trussing, they put in a couple of angle irons, and a bolt between these two angle irons carried the trussing. With regard to the trussing, Mr. Hawksley said that an untrussed holder was, like a wheel without the spokes. That was his expression; the trussing tended to keep the thing in a true circle. When trussing was done away with it was necessary to make the curbs considerably stronger and the box girder system was introduced. Then curved thick plates came into vogue. Mr. Woodall adopted those at .his gasholder at Kennington, and it has been adopted pretty generally. The reason why he adopted it was that in visiting the gasworks, I think it was Kings Cross one day he noticed an untrussed crown, and this plate was buckled in a series of little hills and valleys running from the circumference to the centre and giving an idea that the curve had given way to compression. That led him to believe that if we could keep that plate rigid and true we should greatly increases the strength of the curb. Others, I suppose, came to the same conclusion certainly Mr. Woodall did in his holder at Kennington and that eventually came to be a very common form of crown plate.

Then another thing. I take it one of the greatest improvements ever made in gasholders was Piggott's·cup. It very commonly happened that leakage took place between the rivets and it was common experience of gasmen in those days to have to repair the cup; the thing had to be hoisted out of the tank, and there was no end of trouble to· renew the cup. Then Mabon obtained a patent. Horton infringed it and there was a lawsuit at Manchester in the year 1862, between them on the question. Piggott, the engineering member of the firm, the son of the late Thomas Piggott, was present at the trial, and while he was there the idea occurred to him, why not bend the plate? In, 1862 they had a: contract with the South Metropolitan Company for the building of gasholders. The contract was let and the work was in progress and they came to us and said ‘will you let us try this form of cup?’  We consented; Piggott’s cup was put into that gasholder in 1862, it is at work now, and there had never been any trouble with it. I therefore think that one of the greatest improvements ever made in the matter of gasholders was the invention by the late George Piggott of this cup.

Then as to the framing, I may mention that John Paddon introduced the arrangement shown on the diagram at Brighton or at Hove, rather. As he built his gasholders to a considerable height and they were exposed to gales being near the sea he put in trusses so as to give rigidity to the top of the frames.  It was a very common practice in the early days on the introduction of lattice girders to try and ornament them and rosettes at the junction of the lattices. These rosettes harboured rust and certainly they could not paint or do anything under them. We had a similar thing in some of the gasholders at South Metropolitan and I had them all taken off, so that you have the iron of the girders get-at-able. While I am on the subject of ornament I may tell you a little of my late friend, Major Dresser. One day, when we got the gasholder in the Old Kent Road nearly finished, he paid me a visit, our late friend, John Somerville, was experimenting at the time with ornamental finials to the standards. He made them of different shapes, and had one shape on the top of this standard and another of a different shape on the top of the next. Major Dresser looked and said: "What on earth are those things? “Well, I said, “they are intended for ornament”. “Ornament!” said he “you have not got a particle of ornament about a gas holder; do not spoil it by putting up those monstrosities”. We have followed his advice, and have never since tried to put anything in the shape of ornament upon a gasholder.

The reason I propose plate girders instead of lattice girders is that the things have to last forty or fifty years, and I think a plate girder is less likely to rust and is more get at able for the purpose of painting than the lattice girder. There are examples in Mann’s framing; the 5000.000,cublC feet holder in the Old Rent Road with double diagonal bracing and is the 8,000,000 cubic feet holder at East Greenwich. with triple diagonal bracing. But there it is overdone. We put in the double bracing and then consulted an eminent engineer, who said, “Well, I am not quite sure about it but it might be wise to put in a little more, and so in addition to this double bracing we put in a third, so that looked a perfect network of bracing. The trouble with this system was that there was difficulty in getting the bars properly fitted in, and when we built this holder we made up our minds we never would never have any more with ties. The next was the 12,000,000 holder at East Greenwich in which two lifts go out of the frame, and there is diagonal bracing consisted of struts only, the strongest struts that you could use We have no cross girders except at the top. That holder has two lifts going out. We have one at Rotherhithe with two going out also. I might say a word about that I believe it is safe enough for a gasholder to have one third of its height or one fifth of its height, above the, frame, but I should not like to build one with half its height: above the frame. It seems to throw too much strain upon the rollers and upon the bearing parts

I must not forget to mention here various men and amongst the rest Mr. Webber, who, in the eighties, took a very prominent part, and a very useful part, in gasholder building, and who was, I believe, in favour of doing away with the frame. Then came Gadd and Mason with the invention of a spiral guide. Then came Pease with a really clever invention of a wire rope guiding.  It cannot be disputed that both of these systems were successful, but my objection to them is that the stress of the wind coming on the gasholder must be carried to the ground in some way, and I contend, that it is better that stress or pressure should be carried independently of the holder. If it is not carried to the ground by the framing, (when there is no frame) it must be carried to the ground by the sheeting and that I think would impose a strain on the sheeting.  It ought not to bear. Apropos of this I may mention that when I was quite young one thing puzzled me very much, viz. that the sides of the gasholders seemed to last when the crown became leaky and worn out. I said to myself: “Well here is a funny thing. Here are the sides going in and out of the water every day and they keep all right, and the crown never going into the water at all becomes leaky and has to be patched”. I think the explanation is that whereas the sides have no work to do the crown has a great deal of work to so and constantly changing work. When it is down it is not in tension at all; when it is up there is a certain tension, which comes on the plates. When it takes on the second lift there is greater tension and so on, a constantly varying tension which seems to me one of the causes why the crown gives way more than the sides.       ,

Then as to the systems of guiding. The English system was to have small radial rollers. The French system to have tangential rollers. I first saw them in Paris in the seventies. When we built the 5,000,000 cubic feet holder in the Old Kent Road we combined the tangential and the radial. But there is a difficulty in erecting the tangential so far from the holder. If you put them on, the side of the holder it is all right but for your top carriages you cannot do it, and it is rather weak. Then we contrived an angular system. I must say that I think the tangential is better than the radial because it gives double bearing points in a holder, especially when ‘applied as the French do it. You have twice as many points in the tangential system as you have in the radial, and our system is something betwixt and between in .which we have found advantages.

With regard to the size of gasholders, I think I may say that the mishaps' and difficulties we have with them are much less - now that we have gone to these enormous sizes than they were in the past with the small sizes. It used to be the practice to load holders to give the necessary pressure, and I remember one which was loaded with mouthpieces all round the top which made it top heavy. The holder tilted, as it might have been expected to do. They sent for a consulting engineer, and 'John Kirkham, who was of Pickwickian build, got a lot of the stokers on to the holder to drag the mouthpieces from one side to the other, and while they were dragging these mouth pieces about the holder suddenly tilted to the other side and shot the mouthpieces and the stokers and the consulting engineer to the ground. We are spared these difficulties

Then I once saw a gasholder on fire, the gasholder in the Old-Kent Road with the iron frame. One morning they found that something had happened to it in the night. They attempted to repair at, and brought a light or a red-hot iron, or something or other, near it, and it ignited, and I can remember distinctly a long flame of fire coming out from the crown. I was ' not quite sure about my recollections, but I asked an old pensioner the other day who worked with us in those days, and he said he remembered it quite well. I saw it. It burnt itself out, in accordance with my recollection. I was about ten years old. They simply looked at .it until it sank into the tank, and no harm whatever resulted.