Our Industrial Past


I forgot to mention yesterday that when I returned home I found that my cheque from Laithwaite’s had been delivered.

The Félicité Perpétue rose in the front garden has been sending thorny tentacles across the drive. This morning I restrained them with green wire.


Alongside the marguerites that accompany the rose,


a nasturtium trumpeted its presence.

Clematis Mrs N. Thompson and solanum

Opposite, the clematis Mrs. N. Thompson and solanums

Bee and honeysuckle

twine amongst the honeysuckle from which bees flit to and fro.


This new hollyhock is in bloom along the back drive.

In June 1981, I made a series of colour slides of gasometers. I scanned them this afternoon.

Gasometer 6.81008

Gasometer 6.81 2

Gasometer 6.81 1

Here are sections of side views;

Gasometer 6.81 3

and one of a top.


There are glimpses of three in this image.

Gasometer and car wrecks 6.81 1Gasometer and car wrecks 6.81 2

I cannot, for the life of me, remember where these were. Maybe the car wrecks could provide a pointer for anyone who may help identify them;

Snapdragons on wall

or maybe these snapdragons? Perhaps not.

The major problem for anyone attempting to assist is that these emblems of our industrial past may no longer exist.

This is what Wikipedia has to say about our gasometers: ‘A gas holder, sometimes called a gasometer, is a large container in which natural gas or town gas is stored near atmospheric pressure at ambient temperatures. The volume of the container follows the quantity of stored gas, with pressure coming from the weight of a movable cap. Typical volumes for large gasholders are about 50,000 cubic metres (1,800,000 cu ft), with 60 metres (200 ft) diameter structures.’

Today, there are very few left standing. The reason for this is described in this short video made by Tom Scott:


One iconic gasometer, protected, or, listed since earlier this year, is visible from The Oval cricket ground. I spent many a day in the summers of my teens watching the rise and fall of this famous cricketing symbol. Wikipedia provides this photograph.

For our dinner this evening, the Culinary Queen produced smoked haddock, piquant cauliflower cheese (recipe), new potatoes, crunchy carrots, and sautéed leeks and peppers. We both drank Marlborough Oyster Bay sauvignon blanc 2015. Needless to say, it was all delicious.


Published by derrickjknight

I am an octogenarian enjoying rambling physically and photographing what I see, and rambling in my head as memories are triggered. I also ramble through a lifetime's photographs. In these later years much rambling is done in a car.

57 thoughts on “Our Industrial Past

  1. The flowers are beautiful as always, Derrick. And the images and info on the gasometers is very interesting. I learn new things every day here in the blogosphere and I like that!

  2. Most interesting information. The scaffolding–when the gas is low– is quite delicately beautiful sculpture from a distance, and reminds me of the rides and roller coasters of an amusement park horizon.

  3. I prefer the flowers 🙂 . A couple of years ago I visited Bangladesh several times for energy projects amongst others and saw these huge buildings. They are quite impressive but not my favourite architecture 😀

  4. That was interesting Derrick! I have seen that building at the Oval, but not known what it was. I love to see the marguerites in your garden, of all the flowers they are the ones that make me happiest – no idea why! I haven’t made a cauliflower cheese in a hundred years – I’m off to check out the Culinary Queen’s recipe! xo

  5. Beautiful flowers–the hollyhock is especially stunning. Interesting information about the gasometers. I had no idea.
    I’m glad you received your check. 🙂

  6. Industrial structures do make dramatic studies; I must open my eyes to them more often as subjects for photography. So often we dismiss them as eyesores.

    Love the colour of that hollyhock, the petals remind me of the flounces of a lady’s dress. Carmen, perhaps.

  7. Oooh, before I got to the end of the post, I was thinking “There’s one in Kennington, near the Oval!”. Then I read on and saw you knew about it already. As a child, I used to live opposite it, and still pass it to this day.

      1. Yes, indeed. I’m sure they would have. ❤ By the way, did you ever smell the odour coming from the Beefeater Gin Factory? It was a short distance from the gasometer. One could get a little tipsy just from breathing!

  8. Love that bee shot! And the gasworks history is fabulous. I love the video and the shots of the gasometers. I used to belong to a group called the Society for Industrial Archeology (http://www.sia-web.org) whose logo is a gasworks building. Sometimes these old structures are beautiful. I’m glad some of them are landmarked.

  9. Interesting post Derrick, I have never taken much interest in Gas o meters as you call them, I do recall seeing them in the past but not so much now, not sure if they are still used in Urban environments, I did pick one item out of your pictures that I liked, and that is the blue sedan type car, I think they had wooden trimmings, not sure, would be a renovators delight for a car enthusiast.

  10. Derrick, the flowers are lovely! I have never heard of a gasometer – the video was very interesting! Thank you for sharing this – have a great day. 🙂

  11. The flowers are absolutely lovely, of course but it’s the gasometers that draw me – as a child I used to love going by train into Paddington because we passed several on the way and I was absolutely fascinated by their rising and falling. So I was swooning over that video and lapping up a little more knowledge of something that has always interested me.

  12. Your photos are always amazing, Derrick. I am with flowers and nature, not with industrial past or present. But, as always, I like how you wrote the story.

  13. Civilization leaves its footprints. We too have a demolition in progress, a megastructure abandoned for years. Good I took pictures of it last year. Will put up a blog some time later this Autumn. It is our history isn’t it.
    Love your gorgeous hollyhock.

  14. Hi Derick it’s Janet, the Cockney girl,and Jenny friend,l still have not received your add friend ,l checked all fings and it’s ok this end, plus l have had other friend requests, ect,ok well we can try again if you want to,Also the gasometor pics look very familiar to me,as does the scrap yard next to them, Could they be the 3 in the Old Kent Road,?,and also there are some near Greenwich, l hope your well, Jenny and her hubby Mark became my Grandsons Godparents in May,it was such a Happy Day.bye for now Janet

    1. Thanks very much Janet. I’ll have a look at the friend problem. I doubt that I was near the Old Kent Road – St Pancras has been suggested, and that is a possibility. Congratulations on the Grandson.

  15. So strange that I never took any notice of gasometers when I lived in the uk. I guess they were just part of the “strange” (as in foreign) urban landscape to my eye. Your spot is the first I knew of their rise and fall.

  16. Margery would approve of your gasometer subject matter (as do I, being another industrial archaeologist), since some of her earliest picture subjects were power-station cooling-towers.. The ones near the Southampton F C ground are listed,,and somewhere online (prob. a Facebook history page) I saw an architect’s impression of one turned into apartments (keeping the grid structure and making presumably segment-shaped divisions inside it). It may even have been a project already delivered, possibly in Bristol, and being invoked as one suggested approach for the re-use of the Southampton ones.

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