The gasholder will be gone early in the new year

Work has begun to dismantle east Greenwich’s historic gasholder, with artists being asked to come up with a proposal to commemorate the structure which has dominated the local skyline for 130 years.

SGN, which owns the gasholder, has already removed the metal sheeting on the gasholder’s crown, exposing the wooden framework beneath.

East Greenwich gasholder
These steps, photographed in November, have already been removed

Three bays of the distinctive frame will be retained for the time being, until a use can be found for the site, next to the Blackwall Tunnel approach road. Aside from these remains, which will be about six or seven metres high, demolition is expected to finish early next year.

Work has been taking place since April, but it has progressed at a slower pace than expected because of problems draining the water from the structure, because of limited capacity in the local sewer system.

SGN took visitors around the site on Tuesday

Historians from the Greenwich Industrial History Society and two backbench Greenwich councillors, Nigel Fletcher and Leo Fletcher, were taken on a tour of the site on Tuesday.

Last week, Greenwich Council announced a competition to find local artists from Greenwich, Lewisham, Bexley or Bromley to commemorate the structure. However, the timescale is extremely tight, with interested artists asked to contact the council by today (19 July), and to submit their finished ideas by Friday 9 August.

Work has been slower than expected because of restrictions on how much water can be put down the sewers

While councillors on Greenwich’s planning board fought a last-ditch battle to save the structure, at a full council meeting the ruling Labour group voted down a motion opposing the demolition of the 1888 gasometer, one of the last remnants left from East Greenwich Gas Works.

Gasholders around Europe are now mainly redundant, but the striking structures have been reused elsewhere for leisure, arts and residential purposes.

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