Historic Gas Holder Contamination


J P Chick & Partners has a client who intends to construct a community centre on a town centre brown field site.  This site is at the location of an historical iron works and gas production works, all of which have been demolished and cleared away.

Under the Environment Agency guidance, JPC Environmental undertook for the client a trial pitting survey to identify any relict structures associated with the former gas works on the site. We successfully discovered on the eastern edge the location of the former gas holder.  Within the gas holder there was an element of oily water and evidence of tarry residue and a creosote type odour evidence of historic gas holder contamination.

At the Northern end of the site another trial pit appears to have exposed some sporadic blue green staining within the natural underlying sands, indicative of ‘blue billy’ which is spent oxide associated with the gas purification process.

Gas Holder History

The telescopic gas holder was first invented as early as 1824 for the storage of gas to light homes and factories.  Gas holders were built all around the country in great quantities from the middle of the 19th century.  The large gas holders at Kings Cross were built in the 1860s to provide gas storage for a large part of London.  These are now decommissioned and being utilised within the new Kings Cross development.  The highly decorative frames are built with three tiers of hollow cylindrical columns and wrought iron riveted lattice girders, and were still in use at King’s Cross until 2001.

After natural gas was discovered in the North Sea in 1965 the UK gas network went through a massive process of conversion. Town gas stopped being used and North Sea gas started to be transported into the UK under high pressure in pipes.