Report - Various Gasometers, London - 2015

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living in a cold world
Regular User
Feb 19, 2009
Gas Holders. Or gasometers. However you want to call them, we've all seen them. Growing up in the UK meant that any trip as a child involved driving passed these giant metal structures, mythical in their existence but intriguing in their nature.


They kind of just bleed into the landscape, and I never spared them a single thought until a number of years ago when I started looking at urban climbing images online. "Some sick headed people climb these things? Fuck that." I found myself musing in my mind. The photos looked phenomenal, but it was clear that the actual feat of climbing them wasn't for me.



Of course, attitudes change, and over the years I found myself up on top of more cranes and rooftops than childhood me would ever have imagined. And after reading a BBC article one day about the imminent demise of the UK's gas holders I started talking to a few people who had already made a start on climbing the ones around them.

Bethnal Green

My first intimate interaction with a gasometer was at the West Ham Gas works. We climbed over 3 palisade fences and battled with a ton of brambles to get in via an access point we were happy with, crossed over on to the nearest holder and stopped dead. "Where the fuck's the ladder?!"


I hadn't even contemplated this problem, even though it makes absolute sense. It just hadn't even entered my mind that National Grid would be so forward thinking to try and stop people climbing their ageing infrastructure. -1 for my forward thinking.


I failed at climbing one that night, I just wasn't able to shimmy up the pipe needed to then edge across to the ladder on the first level. I was vexed, and determined that I'd be more prepared for the next one.


The next one came up thick and fast. Greenwich. This was it, the beginning of a relatively short lived love affair with these metal motherfuckers. I was with Ojay and Gabe, and together we made light work of getting up top. Taking in the views across the peninsula and trying to correctly expose the O2 along with the surrounding landscape. Didn't work.

Kensal Green

Over the following 3 months we ticked off a host of inter-M25 gas holders. I managed to scratch 16 off the list, with Gabe taking the lead with 20 or so. Sick guy.


We met a ridiculously varied range of obstacles in trying to access the majority of the sites, even before getting to the cut off ladders. Trying to negotiate over the top of palisade fencing with numerous coils of razor wire, barbed wire, anti-climb paint, moat-like canals, electric fences... They really don't want people playing on their industrial climbing frames it seems.


But play we did, with my absolute favourite being the triple set at Motspur Park. The canopy of the middle holder has long collapsed, creating a lake in the centre. The reflections you could get on it were superb, and as the site is thankfully fairly remote it allowed us to climb it in daytime.

Motspur Park

Although I'm not actually too sure how much anyone would care if we climbed them all in daytime. As we were balling back over the fence at New Southgate a full police car was sat in the adjacent petrol station watching us. They couldn't have given less of a shit.

New Southgate

Although that one resembled more of a jungle than a former gas works. Scores of brambles and even trees had sprouted all over the place, covering the base of the ironwork and making a proper Bear Grylls' encounter just getting to where the ladder once was.

Old Kent Road

All in all they proved to be some amazingly fun evenings though, using a little bit of puzzle-solving to gain access in and up, but the rewards were great. They're perfect places to sit and drink a couple cans, watching over the cityscape to the sounds of life below.


Unfortunately the glamour soon disappeared, and slowly but surely the appeal slipped away as other projects reared their head out of the sand. Summer was around the corner and we had other plans on how to spend our evenings, leaving gas holders behind in our wake. They'll still always have a place in my heart, despite National Grid, Transco, Southern Gas etc being on a metal-cutting rampage in removing them from our world.


I'd encourage as many people as possible to get up close and personal with one of these things. Hesitate for any longer and they'll be gone, and you'll be left shedding a tear whilst looking at these wonky fisheye abominations. Imagine the better photos you could have taken if only you'd not been playing Playstation that night.


Go on, go look at one right now. You don't have to climb it, leave that to idiots like myself. Simply stand as close as you can to it, and talk to her. Listen as the wind sails passed the 100 year old rusting metal and be in awe of the industrial heritage we're allowing to be ripped away from us and melted down.

West ham


28DL Regular User
Regular User
Sep 21, 2014
Fantastic write up and photos to boot. You certainly ticked them off the list one after the other, top work


living in a cold world
Regular User
Feb 19, 2009
Just seen that they've now demolished the Hornsey gas holders. These things are dwindling so go sit on one whilst you still can!

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