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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

Haringey Council has deleted Gasholder No 1 from its local list of industrial heritage site with a view to it being demolished to make way for Heartlands. At the same time English Heritage is assessing it with a view to it being listed! It’s in the balance and could be lost.
From Gasholder No 1 at Hornsey Gasworks: A structure at risk!

Make sense to you ??

Thanks to Belfegore for surfacing this issue through his photo and link on Flickr and to PMRA for tweeting it out on Twitter.

Tags for Forum Posts: haringey heartlands, hornsey gasholder

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The land being developed in Kings Cross had to be decontaminated so yes, it is feasible that residential buildings could go up, but the decontamination process is very expensive and the cost probably would fall to the developer.
Decontamination is an issue, but it can be done – see the photo of Dublin example in my article referred to above.

The Hornsey site is owned by National Grid, who own most of the old gasworks sites which they have been selling off for development. (Windfall profit?) A recent example is at Tunbridge Wells where new and relatively cheap techniques were used to decontaminate the land for a Barratt Homes development. The Tunbridge Wells site has a clay sub-soil similar to that at Hornsey and the same technology could be used here.

Also, the Hornsey site is designated for high density residential development (Heartlands), so decontamination will have to be done anyway.

Be suspicious of anyone who argues that contamination means that the gasholders have to go – they don’t. It’s just cheaper to demolish, clear the site, decontaminate and build without any concerns for our heritage.

I have a great view of this gasholder and agree it should be maintained. When I questioned the developers at the Wood green Library event I was told that Ebglish Heriitage said it could go because there was a better one in Kent! I woudl like to see it integrated into the building of the Heartlands scheme.
Interesting discussion, great contributions, really hope that this issue will be considered in the final proposals for Heartlands (if it ever happens) and that at least Gasholder 1 will get appropriate recognition and will continue to be a landmark for the area.

What you were told about the English Heritage line is partly true. As I said in the article, EH’s first refusal to list the 1892 structure was because they didn’t understand it – they described it as “heavily braced”, which under-states its real significance. EH’s later reason for refusing it is was that an earlier example (1890) using the same helical girder structure exists at Tunbridge Wells and if any of them are to be listed it has to be the older one.

The trouble with this is that the Tunbridge Wells one, which was a prototype for the bigger Hornsey one is smaller, not very attractive and doomed for demolition because nobody at Tunbridge Wells is interested in it. Also, National Grid want it cleared away to complete the Barratt Homes development that I referred to earlier.

There are other examples of gasholders using the Cutler helical girder principle and there is a very large one at New Barnet, but these are all much later – probably from the 1930s and in locations where re-use is not a realistic option. If any of them are to be listed, the compelling case is for the Hornsey one, but it would be very difficult to get EH to change its stance on this. One frustration in all of this is that EH didn’t even bother to visit the site to make their assessment!

Just be careful what you end up with! The Dublin (Ringsend) example cited was fairly imaginatively developed into about 200 apartments just before Ireland's property bubble burst. At about Eu500K each they found few takers. The developer Liam Carroll, in big trouble with a vast portfolio of developments, tried to turn it into (yet another) hotel of ?600 rooms only to meet with loud protests from the neighbours and refusal from the Planning Board. I'm not sure what its present status is, but then landowners with more money than sense have for centuries indulged in (re)constructing rural follies. Time for a few urban examples of the genre.
Very interesting to lean what has happened with the Dublin gasholder. But the fickleness of property developers and the volatility of the markets in Dublin or in London should not put us off demanding the best. It’s our environment and we have to live with the results of developers’ plans and planning decisions. Simply building mediocre slab blocks may be safer investments in terms of financial returns, but Haringey deserves something better. Let’s demand something really imaginative for Heartlands – and the gasholder could be the key to it.


You are right; the gasholder could be transformed into a really interesting workspace. Contamination is an issue, but this will need to be addressed anyway. National Grid did this at Tonbridge Wells and clearly it was done successfully in Dublin – it could be done here in Hornsey.


But nobody actually wanted to live there -

"The Alliance building is a converted gasometer which was developed into a block of apartments...... Forty of the apartments were sold but none of those who paid deposits went on to sign contracts and many left as they realised the apartments were overpriced. Zoe Developments applied for and received permission from Dublin City Council to convert the building into a hotel, but it shortly turned out that a combination of too many hotel rooms and price cutting meant there was no market for that either. "

 Ack Wikipaedia.

Sometimes a gasholder is just a gasholder.



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