architecture and construction photography

Bromley-by-Bow Gasworks, London.


The Imperial Gas Light and Coke Company was established in 1821. Between 1870 to 1873, the company developed, what was to be their largest gasworks. It was located on a 170 acre site on Bow Creek, off the River Lea in East London. Nine were built, with seven surviving to this day (no.3 and 5 were demolished). All are grade 2 listed by Historic England.

Gasholders No 1 and No 2 were completed in 1872. Gasholder No 3 was also built at about that time. These were all designed by Joseph Clark and Thomas Kirkham.

Gasholders No 4 and No 5 were completed in 1877. The gasholder bells were ‘constructed on the girder principle’ pioneered by the engineer Vitruvius Wyatt at a new gasworks at Redheugh, Tyne and Wear.

Gasholders No 6 and No 7 were built in 1879 to 1882. Gasholders No 8 and No 9 were built in 1880 to 1882. The gasholder tanks of Nos 6, 7, 8, and 9 are thought to have been built of mass concrete faced with brickwork. The walls were buttressed on the inside under arcades, following railway practice as used by Wyatt, at Beckton.

All the guide frames other than No 1 have only two tiers of columns, as originally built. They have lost the separately-cast cornices from their upper tier of columns (removed subsequent to listing). In 1925 to 1927, Gasholder No 1 (and the now demolished No 3) was raised in height by adding a third tier. Diagonal-bracing was also added to the guide frame. Also, unusually, spiral-guided flying lifts were added to the gas bell. This increased capacity from two to five million cubic feet.


During the Second World War, the gasworks suffered damage due to a bombing raid on 15 September 1940. This resulted in the dismantling of one gasholder.

Closure and Listing

The Bromley-by-Bow gasworks closed in 1976. However, the gasholders continued to be used for gas storage and were listed at Grade II in 1984, before being decommissioned of gas. They are now thought to be the largest group of Victorian gasholders in Britain, and probably the world.

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