FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Braunton and the Battersea Gas Holders

Posted in England, London by folkestonejack on March 29, 2014

One of the long established locations for railway photography can be found at Wandsworth Road, a viewpoint offering the sight of today’s railways against a terrific industrial backdrop that includes the iconic profile of Battersea Power Station and the nearby Battersea Gas Holders.

Braunton approaches Wandsworth Road

Braunton and Battersea Gas Holder no. 7

The prospect of good weather and the appearance of a steam locomotive (Rebuilt Bulleid Light Pacific no. 34046 ‘Braunton’) on a railtour to Canterbury seemed like an opportune moment to discover the unlikely charms of this location for myself. It turned out to be a good time to acquaint myself with this spot as the view is soon going to change rather dramatically with the demolition of the Battersea gasholders.

The gasholders were originally constructed as part of the London Gas Light Company’s Nine Elms Gasworks. Three are survivors from the 1870s/80s whilst the youngster in the pack is the distinctive light blue MAN gasholder (Gasholder No. 7) which has stood on this site since 1932. The MAN gasholder was a “rigid waterless gasholder through which the gas flow was regulated by a piston.”

The gasworks closed in 1970, though gas storage continued for a while afterwards. Now all of the gas holders have reached the end of their operational life and are being demolished to make way for new homes and shops.

It was a pleasure to see Braunton at this location, though it was not to be the most glorious day in her life – the locomotive later failed in Folkestone. Unlike the gasholders, she will live to see many more better days.


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