Report - - Gas Holder No.5, Southall - May 2015. | Industrial Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Gas Holder No.5, Southall - May 2015.


Staff member

Gas Holder No.5, Southall - May 2015.


I'm on the fence with gas ironically, however there have been, and still are some iconic structures of industry up and down the country to be seen

For myself they made for a good climbing frame as a kid, when games consoles and other distractions didn't exist back in the day :p

Now as I say, I'm not 'fanatical about GAS' or climbing them like others

Don't get me wrong I've done a fair few now over the years and accumulated some pics for a rainy day, but really nothing to write home about, although I do find them quite photogenic

These things won't be around for much longer, so if you suddenly find yourself interested in them I'd get your skates on and get cracking!

Here is a recent article featured by the BBC which explains a little more > http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-30405066

This ones a bit different, as the majority of them are of the telescoping variety

Telescoping holders fall into two subcategories:

The earlier of the telescoping holders were column guided variations and were built in Victorian time, they utilise an external frame to guide the telescoping walls, visible at a fixed height at all times

Spiral guided gas holders were built in the UK up until 1983, these have no frame and each lift is guided by the one below, rotating as it goes up as dictated by helical runners

And then there are M.A.N sized holders..
M.A.N stands for Maschinenfabrik Augsburg-Nürnberg, which is the name of the German company that developed the design for the tall blue gas holder

M.A.N gas holders are located across the country, Europe and the US. M.A.N still exists and specialises in making engines, buses and trucks

While the technology was German, the gas holders were built by an English company called R&J Dempster

R&J Dempster were granted the license by MAN to build the gas holders and went on to even build them in Germany itself

Modern variants of M.A.N gas holders continue to be built across the world today by another German company, Leffer, thanks to their relatively lightweight design and large capacity

Southall Gasworks

Southall Gasworks was first established in 1869 with the Brentford Gas Company to meet the increasing demand for gas in Middlesex in the late 19th Century

Located on land between Beaconsfield Road and the Great Western Main Line.. Arse end of nowhere and now typically surrounded by the Heathrow long stay car park

In 1926 the Brentford Gas Company was taken over by the Gas Light and Coke Company (GLCC)

The Gas Light & Coke Company was just one of many companies in London that produced town gas. They owned the Southall site until 1949 when the plant then came under the control of the North Thames Gas Board

The site was passed over to British Gas Plc in 1973 and subsequently National Grid who own the site today

In total the site contained 5 gas holders, including the No.5 M.A.N holder which are still visible today although No.2 has long gone and only the below ground tank for No.1 remains


Gasholder No. 1 – built in 1869 - Capacity, (14,000 m³
Gasholder No. 2 – built in 1878 - Capacity, (32,000 m³)
Gasholder No. 3 – built in 1885 - Capacity, (59,000 m³)
Gasholder No. 4 – built in 1892 - Capacity, (112,000 m³)

Gas holder No. 5 - (Blue M.A.N gasholder) – built in 1930
Located at National Grid gas site (Station 960) at Southall, gas holder No. 5 is a rigid, waterless, gas holder through which gas flow was regulated by a piston

Known as a M.A.N. gas holder and is the tallest structure on the site at 295 ft (90m)

It is a light blue-painted, 20-sided, steel drum consisting of rolled-steel standards with six horizontal ribs clad with laterally reinforced steel panels

I do have a soft spot for these big blue derps, I grew up near to one and we used to play on/in it before it was demolished

Most people consider them to be an eyesore, and to all intents and purposes they are

They have a certain appeal which is probably due to one of a few surviving relics from the industrial past I grew up around, that and cotton mills that soon enough will be wiped off the landscape forever :(

The trouble is, these day's a lot of these sites are quite tricky to access given some of the ridiculous security measures that have been imposed

We managed to successfully get into the Battersea holder station a couple of years ago for a look at No.7 before it was recently demolished and was reasonably satisfied

Like others, I'd always fancied a look at Southall, and having lived/worked in London and passed by here every often to and from the airport, you can't help but notice the local landmark which juts out from the landscape

You can see the thing from miles around given it's fairly flat around these parts

They even had to paint LH and an arrow on it to avoid pilots from incorrectly landing at RAF Northolt nearby instead of runway 23 at Heathrow, which is no longer

I'd been for a couple of visits to the site over the last few years, and although the perimeter fence is easy enough to bypass the 12ft leccy fence behind it wasn't looking good and was a fair challenge for anyone

There was simply no comedy access unlike some other sites using these fences I've seen/heard about

I'll also admit I've never put any effort into it either and did the typical trick of convincing myself it was shit, and besides I've got pics of No.7 which is identical etc

Rewind 18 months ago and Gaj told me he had a plan to get it done, it was ambitious but plausible, although I do remember a jovial "Fuck off" at the time :p

However having seen the pogo sticks in action, was fairly confident him and Keitei would pull this off, and indeed they went for it on the night of my birthday whilst I was back home

For anyone not having given the site a good going over, you may not appreciate what was involved on that particular evening, but it worked and they'd managed to crack what was suitably titled the fortnox of GAS

CHOP CHOP if you want to see this place, as Coleman & Co will be de-constructing it shortly, and in fact with some of the destruction used to gain access I was under the impression work had already started

That and hearing tales of people being spotted I thought I'd take a look before it's inevitably too late, as on a previous visit there were workers doing some kind of surveying on site and I had to walk away empty handed


In for the kill bruv


On with some pics of No.5 itself, as we proceeded to climb the external staircase which winds itself up and around the 90m holder





Are we there yet.. time for a breather


A few more metres and we reached the top deck, could have done with a kronie at this point


F00k me, there's only a lift :rolleyes:


Up top




Shit views



Holder Station 960 and old Gas works site





Time for a look inside, as night time visits in these places make for shit pics and fill light specials

The locked hatch might well afford access for skinny fuckers and people with keys, sadly a fail on both counts :D

We opted for a more interesting way inside, as Battersea holder No.7 was a walk in once up top, however this one isn't and getting it wrong is an unforgiving 90m drop

After weighing up a couple of safe routes we were soon down inside and onto the walkway below the top breather




A gantry leads onto the internal suspended/collapsible staircase which heads down through the middle of the holder and is fully height adjustable as the piston moves up and down



Internally, these things look amazing with natural lighting





Thats all folks!

The Lone Ranger

Safety is paramount!
Staff member
Very nice that, a quality looking stroll :thumb


SWC | Bally up!
Regular User
Decent pics mate


big in japan
Regular User
My bet is that a load of cable thieves have been in and looted what they could which has killed the power. Tenner says all the cameras are off now as well so you can prob do what you want if the lack of leccy fence and chain on the motor controlled gate is(/was) anything to go by.

Is this the last one in the country btw?


Staff member
No cables had been looted, didn't notice a chain or lock on main gate, it's RFID access anyway so surprised there would be ?

I was here a couple of weeks back and they were doing some work and deffo no lock on gate then either

There was a man holder in Liverpool but Coleman & Co have pulled that one down now and No.7 is down too, last one afaik


Bespectacled & irrelevant
Regular User
Nah, deffo not the last one. There's a few at Port Talbot for sure. I think Scunny has MAN holders too.


Staff member
Shame to see them go, they have a certain charm about them.

I'd love to own that water tower though that's there, beautiful structure that, shame it's stuck in arse end of nowhere


big in japan
Regular User
No cables had been looted, didn't notice a chain or lock on main gate, it's RFID access anyway so surprised there would be ?
Well that's what I mean, they'd prob have to chain it if the RFID and maglock were all off, which has obv since been cut and removed

And actually, yeah. I'm being a fucking div. I was stood on the one at scunny with katie about 6 months ago haha

Last edited:


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Nice ones matey :thumb even avoiding the Facebook issues lol

More impressive up than when they"re being demolished as on BBCs recent Demolition series that"s for sure.


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Excellent set! When I grew up by the Southall Gasometer I always wondered how it looked inside and what the view was like from the top. I've visited family a few times in Southall this year and can confirm the gasometer is currently being dismantled. The roof has been removed and panels down below the LH and arrow have gone too! Very sad as a lot of us born in Southall are very fond of the BlueMan.