Jumbo’s last stand: East Greenwich’s gasholder reaches its end

Just two parts of the frame remain

While London has been in lockdown because of the coronavirus emergency, East Greenwich’s gasholder has been slowly disappearing from the local skyline, with just two sections of the frame now remaining in place.

Work began on dismantling the East Greenwich gasholder, one of the last remnants of the Greenwich Peninsula’s old gasworks, last April. 853 visited the site and reported on the progress of the demolition last July.

East Greenwich gasholder
The gasholder seen earlier this month

Progress had been slower than expected – draining water from the structure had taken longer than anticipated because of limited capacity in the local sewer system. But in recent weeks, work has moved to taking down the frame. When work is finished, just three bays – about six or seven metres high – will be retained for the time being, until a use can be found for the site.

East Greenwich gasholder at full height
The decision to demolish the gasholder caused dismay

The 132-year-old gasholder was one of a pair constructed for the old gas works. The other was taken down in 1985, with the Silvertown Tunnel approach due to run through its former site.

Gasholders around the country have been demolished in recent years. Despite its age and position as a local landmark, there were no legal protections in place to protect the East Greenwich gasholder on historic grounds. English Heritage did not list it as it was too similar to another gasometer on the Old Kent Road.

The gasholder was a distinctive landmark for drivers using the Blackwall Tunnel

The plans to demolish the much-loved structure led to a local outcry. Councillors on Greenwich’s planning board – where they do not have to follow their party’s instructions – fought a last-ditch battle to save the structure, but at a full council meeting the ruling Labour group voted down a motion opposing the demolition of the structure.

The structure is one of the last reminders of the old East Greenwich gasworks
The Silvertown Tunnel approach is due to run through the site of the Number 2 gasholder, where the trees are now. That structure was damaged by an IRA bomb in 1979 and demolished in 1985
Gasholders across the country have been demolished

Photographer James D Evans has been tracking the progress of the demolition on his Flickr page.

Thursday update: Evans captured the final demolition work on Wednesday…

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