28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
- Feb 24, 2015
I promised more reports and finally I’m back from enjoying the dizzying heights of London’s skyline to share my recent adventures.
Despite my love for building sites I found myself drawn towards this lonely Gasometer which still imposes itself on the peninsula, it seemed rude not to give it a shot. It’s been my one and only thus far but I’m already looking forward to scaling a few more.
The Rotherhithe gasometer and its associated gas works (like many in London) were a byproduct of a time when gas was manufactured (Via the burning of coal) and stored locally.
The nearby Thames tunnel (currently used by London overground) opened in 1843 and with its lighting provided by 100 gas lights the local demand rocketed. Cue the founding in 1851 of the Rotherhithe gas works by the Surry Consumers Gas Company with its eventual opening in 1855.
A merger with the South Metropolitan Gas Company followed and by 1894 the site had 3 gasometers, a dedicated rail track and a jetty to handle coal deliveries.
Two more gasometers were built in the 1930’s but the bombing of London during WW2 led to the destruction of two of the four and finally 1959 brought about its closure.
Most of the original gas works has been developed into housing and a smaller dilapidated site is all that remains. Number three gasometer (built in 1935) is the only surviving structure and dominates the site. The jetty can also be accessed by following the nearby Thames path. It is currently used by a gas company to store vans (+ general rubbish) and the gasometer itself has a mobile phone antenna bolted to it.
After a few inconspicuous walks around the site perimeter I came up with a few possible routes in and then waited for the sun to go down in order to try them out.
The area stayed busy until late but 3am brought a lull in the foot and road traffic and after a frustrating 30 mins I found myself stood at the base of my first gasometer.
Walking around site was difficult as there is rubbish all over the place interspersed with the occasional piece of industrial equipment (rusty pipes and pumps etc.) but overall ground level was a little lackluster except for a soft toy that someone had tortured/murdered on a gas valve
My happiness was short lived when I discovered the thing had a gate and anti-climb measures in place.
Undeterred, some experimentation revealed a way around the anti-climb by climbing (the irony) and I emerged at the perimeter of a rusting dome, just what the doctor ordered!
A quick walk around the base revealed the bad condition of its roller bearings, standing water, plants and general muck. With the smell of methane strong on the southern side I returned to the access stairs ready to choose between dome or ladder. Some tentative steps out onto the dome with the occasional creak and I turned back for what this trip really was about. Time to go up.
The ladders felt sound with four levels in total, each having only a small area to rest and the ladders being near vertical. I felt pretty exposed as the site is next to a road and you can hear people around Surrey dock also. I stopped at the top for some pictures before moving away from the mobile antenna to sit and enjoy the view.
All in all it was a good first gasometer outing, here are some pics: