East Greenwich gasholder
The gasholder has shrunk in size after nearly a year of demolition work

A year after demolition work began, one of south-east London’s most distinctive landmarks has shrunk in size as it slowly disappears from the skyline after 132 years.

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 at full height
The decision to demolish the gasholder caused dismay

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. Now the once-mighty structure, next to the Blackwall Tunnel approach road, has almost halved in height after months of work to take it down.

The gasholder was one of a pair constructed for the old gas works. The other was taken down in 1985. 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.

Three bays of the distinctive frame – which will be 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
Greenwich councillors on its planning board tried to halt its demolition

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.

Last September, planning documents submitted by developer Knight Dragon for much of the rest of the peninsula revealed that Greenwich Council has a planning brief for homes and offices on the gasholder site, which will face a major road junction if plans for the Silvertown Tunnel continue.

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