South Shields skyline set to change forever as demolition dates set for historic gasometer

South Tyneside’s skyline is set to change forever as an imposing historic structure bites the dust.
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Northern Gas Networks is set to start demolition work on the Victorian-era gasometer, or gas holder, in South Shields town centre later this spring.

The Gazette first reported on plans to demolish the structure in 2015, with Northern Gas Networks stating at the time demolition work could begin in 2018 – but was on a “fluid timeline”.

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Now South Tyneside Council has issued a public notice stating Oyston Street will be closed to traffic in the coming weeks to allow for the demolition to take place.

Gasometer, South ShieldsGasometer, South Shields
Gasometer, South Shields

The notice setting out the necessary traffic order reads: "The order is required because works or are proposed to be executed on or near the road, and in particular to enable Northern Gas Networks to allow the demolition of the gas holder.”

Traffic chiefs say the order will come into force on April 27 and can remain in place for up to 18 months.

However, it is anticipated the closure will only be needed for 165 days from May 2.

All vehicles except those needed for the work will barred from using Oyston Street for the duration of the project.

Under the shadow of the gasometer - Waterloo Vale with, on the left, Nelson Street.Under the shadow of the gasometer - Waterloo Vale with, on the left, Nelson Street.
Under the shadow of the gasometer - Waterloo Vale with, on the left, Nelson Street.
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The gas holder has been a feature of the South Shields skyline since 1886.

It was built by G&W Walker Ltd. and the Tyne and Wear Historic Environment Record (HER) describes it as consisting of “16 vertical cast iron columns and two huge tanks that lift telescopically as they fill with gas, to a total height of 90ft”.

The HER record states it could store “almost 1.5 million cubic feet of gas – enough to supply 1,800 homes for a full day, or 42,000 homes for an hour.”

It adds: “The structure received a makeover in 2008/09 when engineers gave it a £250,000, 5,000-litre paint job to make it less incongruous in its environment.”

The gasometer.The gasometer.
The gasometer.
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However, big changes in the gas industry since the discovery of North Sea gas in the 1960s has seen gasometers becoming obsolete.

The structure in South Shields is one of hundreds being wiped off the map as there is “no longer any use” for them.

The gasometer, like others of its kind, divides opinion, with some viewing it as an eyesore and others expressing sadness at the loss of the historic structure from our skyline.

Northern Gas Networks said in 2015 how it recognised communities “become attached” to the structures, and work would be done to capture people’s memories of the gasometer.