Architecture lovers are rallying to save two iconic pieces of the East London skyline from possible demolition.
The Bethnal Green gasholders at Marian Place are a potent reminder of East London’s industrial heritage. But campaigners believe they are at risk of being pulled down, after National Grid applied to English Heritage for a Certificate of Immunity from listing.
Tom Ridge, a local historian and founder of the East End Waterway group, has started a petition to retain the gas holders that has already gained over 1,100 signatures.
“They’re unique, there are no other gasholders like it left in the country,” said Mr Ridge, who is also campaigning to save gasholders in Poplar. The two holders date from 1866 and 1889 and are the only surviving example of adjacent gasholders in London. The smaller of the two has a similar design to those listed at Bromley-by-Bow and St Pancras, but is an earlier and, according to Mr Ridge, “better proportioned” example.
Christopher Costelloe, Director of the Victorian Society, is concerned East London is “whitewashing its industrial heritage”. He said: “It is not just grand country houses which deserve protection for future generations but also buildings which are important reminders of the great technological and domestic changes of the 19th century, such as these gasholders.”
Tower Hamlets Council’s plan for the site around the gasholders, which was given conservation status in 2008, includes a “strategic housing development” and local park, which according to its site allocation map is roughly positioned where the gasholders are currently standing.
Jordan Gross, owner of Oval Space, which overlooks the gasholders, wants them to be included in any future development. He said: “I think the result of their removal would be that horrendous high rise flats will be built there which will then probably tower over Broadway market and the entire area. There are lots of options for repurposing these holders without building flats there.”
Following National Grid’s application, English Heritage is to make its recommendations to the Culture Secretary, Sajid Javid, who will make a final decision about listing the gasholders.
A spokesperson for Tower Hamlets Council said: “Tower Hamlets Council is committed to ensuring that the borough’s many historic assets are managed effectively and preserved for the benefit of the community wherever possible.
Residents who would like to share their views about the Gasholders can contact English Heritage directly.”
View the East End Waterway group petition here: www.residents-first.co.uk/no-2-and-no-5-gasholders-at-the-bethnal// 6 November, 2014