Life's a Gas
The latest addition to the Historic Environment Record (HER) are thematic records for 49 gasworks in the county. A national gazetteer published by Historic England in 2020 based on specialist research by Professor Russell Thomas was used to supplement a small number of existing HER records for gasworks. The sites include 19th century public gas works built to supply lighting for the larger towns such as High Wycombe and Aylesbury and smaller (often short-lived) private gasworks which supplied factories and country house estates such as Hazell, Watsone and Viney’s Printworks, Cliveden House and Mentmore Towers. A couple of 20th century gas storage sites, where gas was stored in gasometers but not manufactured on site, were also included.
Before the discovery of Natural Gas supplies in the North Sea, gasworks manufactured ‘Town Gas’ from coal, which was stored on site in collapsible gas holders (gasometers). With gas now supplied directly via pipelines, gasometers are fast disappearing and gasworks sites redeveloped. The move away from fossil fuels towards sustainable energy will soon consign gasworks to the scrapheap of industrial history!
1960s gasometer at gas storage station on Gatehouse industrial estate in Aylesbury.