AN iconic South Tyneside landmark’s days are numbered after it was earmarked for demolition.
The imposing gasometer, which has dominated the town centre skyline in South Shields for decades, is to be torn down by owners Northern Gas Networks.
It is one of hundreds of similar structures being wiped off the map – as there is “no longer any use” for them.
The gasometer has been facing a bleak future ever since natural gas was discovered in the North Sea in 1965.
Gas holders once stored coal gas – and later natural gas – for the UK’s urban areas, but now all but a handful are obsolete.
The UK gas network went through a major process of conversion, with town gas no longer used, and North Sea gas being transported into the UK under high pressure in pipes.
From this point, it was only when extra capacity was needed in the gas network that gas holders would be used.
As the network of pipelines became larger and more effective, these occasions became fewer, with gas holders becoming a sizeable industrial relic of the past.
By the 1990s, most local gas networks were able to function at full capacity without the use of gas holders.
In 1999, a decision was made to start demolishing them.
It can take as long as between six months and a year to dismantle a gas holder due to their sheer size.
The South Shields gasometer, situated in Garden Lane, South Shields, has become a familiar sight to residents and visitors to South Shields.
But Northern Gas Networks, which is responsible for gasometers throughout the North East, says it could be demolished in 2018.
A company spokeswoman said: “The gasometer in South Shields is owned by Northern Gas Networks.
“It will eventually be demolished. This could take place in 2018, but is a fluid time-line.
“This date could be brought forward or put back.
“There is no longer any use for gas holders.”
But Northern Gas says it understands communities have become “attached to the structures” – and will keep residents informed of when a firm date for the demolition is established.
The spokesperson added: “We know communities can get attached to them, and grow used to seeing them on the skyline.
“We will keep people informed about when the demolition will take place.
“We also have artists in residence who go into schools to capture people’s memories.”