Beckton Gasworks

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    Once the biggest gas works in the world Beckton has shrunk to a shadow of its former self. Coal gas was produced here from the 1880's until the 1960's when the product was replaced by natural gas. Coal gas was highly poisonous and a favoured method of suicide for anyone with a spare shilling for the meter was to stick your head in the oven and expire relatively painlessly and quickly. Natural gas is next to useless for purposes of committing suicide - stuffing the gaps beneath doors and windows with rags, leaving the hob on unlit for half an hour and then striking a match and hoping to die in the subsequent explosion is a highly uncertain method and may well also result in injury to persons who still have an attachment to life.

    Three functioning gasometers and a defunct one plus some interesting pipes and a small boiler house are all that are left of the gasworks.

    libby owen,, Mangrove Rat, and 1 other people added this photo to their favorites.

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    1. Atlantys - FLI.CKR sucks big time!!! 62 months ago | reply

      Beautiful composition and tones OFE.
      Just like your previous friends mentioned I also think this looks like an amphiteathre or at least like the "skeletton" of one that is being constructed =)

    2. dabeiramar 62 months ago | reply

      One just can't die any more?

      Seen on your photo stream. (?)

    3. Paul Sproat 62 months ago | reply

      They say that our gas reserves are exhausted - what about the coal beneath our feet?
      Coal can be turned into fuel for motor cars (Benzoil) and gas can be produced too. Yes it is a bit poisonous but there must be something that can be done to fix that?

      I remember as a kid when the engineers covered the country changing jets on gas appliances so that they would work on North Sea gas. Imagine that now.......

      Many years back I was walking my dog across a reclaimed rubbish tip. Pipework had been burried and connected to vent pipes.
      One day I could see "shimmering" from the top of a pipe - just like the shimmering you see on a hot road in the summer.
      I cautiously got nearer thinking it was perhaps an invisible flame burning there. Once I got close all I could smell was rotting rubbish. I even poked my nose into the pipe for a sniff.
      I remember my throat burning hot as if I had drunk some whisky. As I walked away my head began to get light. My ears were buzzing and I was pretty much drunk as a skunk.
      The day passed quickly from what I can remember.......

      Oh - nice pic OFE.

    4. O.F.E. 62 months ago | reply

      Yes, those Victorians could make the most mundane of public utilities almost beautiful.
      Natural gas isn't poisonous but apparently you can suffocate if the level of gas exceeds 25% of the atmosphere. I can't find any cases in the UK though during the less ten years so you would have to be pretty determined.
      Cheers Geoff
      Thanks Matt. Squib Pig's picture is from the other side.
      Contre-jour - I like that expression. It will make a good title for my next shot into the sun.
      Sunrise not sunset - taken on my way into work (by a longcut, as opposed to a short cut, long cuts are what I do when I can't face going in).
      Thanks Atlantys
      Rumour has it we all have to die but it is getting harder to bring it to a premature end these days, at least without going to considerable efforts and a high degree of pain.
      Coal gas a bit poisonous? More than a bit. It's full of Carbon Monoxide, it turns your blood to jelly by attaching itself to hemoglobin and prevents uptake of oxygen. It's lethal stuff. I can't believe you take the piss out of Bloada for drinking out of a stream when you go round inhaling the gas coming out of vent pipes on rubbish tips.

    5. eamonn higgins1 61 months ago | reply

      I met my love by the gas works wall
      Dreamed a dream by the old canal
      I Kissed my girl by the factory wall
      Dirty old town
      Dirty old town

    6. O.F.E. 61 months ago | reply

      Eamonn, get yourself a buddy icon otherwise it's like talking to a robot. Funnily enough that song also runs through my head when I'm around Beckton gas works (Pogues version).

    7. eamonn higgins1 61 months ago | reply

      Ewan MacColl knew if you take a poetic image and stick it in an ugly setting it enhances the beauty, I think the Pogues made it a bit of a theme. I think you're doing the same thing for Newham.

    8. Jananjay 38 months ago | reply

      Hi, This is Janan from Londonist - This picture is gorgeous and I've just included this image in an article about valentine's day, no less! So just wanted to say thank you for adding this to the Londonist Flickrpool. We've credited your photo at the bottom of the article!

    9. O.F.E. 38 months ago | reply

      Least romantic London destinations? I'm sure there are some girls who wouldn't mind a date at Beckton Gas Works.....

    10. Jananjay 38 months ago | reply

      Hahaha - It does have it's charm, I'll give it that!

    11. libby owen 38 months ago | reply

      Golly OFE you've been discovered! I'll be able to say I knew you when you were nothing, and I just hope you remember your old chums when we're all queueing (is that how you spell it?) to go and see you at the Tate Modern or somewhere.

      This has always been one of my favourite pictures of yours though, I'd happily have it hanging on my wall.

    12. Mangrove Rat 38 months ago | reply

      I'd happily meet you there today and "breathe in the heady stench of the Northern Outfall Sewer". Sounds like a perfect day to me.

      I think I would give walking through Rotherhithe Tunnel a miss though...

    13. O.F.E. 38 months ago | reply

      My 15 minutes of fame passed 21 hours and 45 minutes ago so now I'm slinking back to my old chums and trying not to think of my glory day.
      Shame you have to go to uni then isn't it? I am quite tempted by a walk through the Rotherhithe tunnel. I didn't realise you were still allowed through it on foot. I have stood, more than once, at the entrance's on both side of the river and wondered why there was no barrier stopping any old fool from wandering into what is obviously a death trap. The only thing stopping me going in was the CCTV cameras which I was sure would summon some sort of security guard to intercept and eject me with a stiff warning about endangering myself and other road users. Now I see you are actually allowed down there I will have to go.

    14. Mangrove Rat 38 months ago | reply

      I was at work stitching boiler feed pumps all day yesterday (14th) but we could have gone in the evening for some dusk heady stench. Did you read the comment by the cyclist who almost asphyxiated in the tunnel? If you don't die of carbon monoxide inhalation first (you wrote yourself that it turns your blood to jelly by attaching itself to hemoglobin and preventing uptake of oxygen...), you get hit by a car or truck, and if you survive that you get permanent brain damage from the lead poisoning. Unsurprisingly the photo was taken from a car.

    15. O.F.E. 38 months ago | reply

      'Stitching boiler feed pumps' makes it sound like you repairing them with needle and thread. I didn't read the comment by the cyclist - cyclists are such moaners (too impatient to walk, too tight to use public transport, too principled to drive). I'm immune to carbon monoxide poisoning after years of habituating myself to the inhalation of toxins by smoking cigarettes. I’m sure I can get in and out of the tunnel without keeling over. As for lead poisoning – I thought all the lead had been taken out of petrol and diesel? I’m determined to walk it. I would have left it for a Sunday when the traffic would have been lighter but I’ve got the dog now and while I don’t mind risking my own neck it wouldn’t be fair to risk a poor, dumb animal’s. So it will have to be during the week, after work probably. Wish me luck.

    16. Mangrove Rat 38 months ago | reply

      Ahem. I am a 'cyclist' and have been for the last 33 years. There are many diverse reasons for people being 'cyclists'. (And not just impatient, tight, principled.) And DUMB ?!?!?!? Unless you mean 1b from Oxford English Reference Dictionary 1996 "(of an animal) naturally unable to speak" - a rather archaic use of the word. I wish you good luck.

    17. O.F.E. 38 months ago | reply

      You don't live and cycle in London though. The only other good reason I can think of for wanting to cycle in London is that you have a death wish. Disproportionate numbers of cyclists get mown down every year on the roads. And as for dumb - in what sense other than 'naturally unable to speak' would I have been using the word when talking about an animal? Archaic? Well, that is how we, the ageing part of the populace, speak English in England, archaically. Only the younger generations (including my kids) have started to use the word to signify stupidity or lack of intelligence. It's an Americanism they've picked up from the TV. If I wanted to call someone stupid I would say they were 'unintelligent' if I was being formal and probably 'thick' if I wasn't or, most likely of all, 'not very bright' when employing that most typical of English modes of expression, the euphemism. Thank you for wishing me luck!

    18. Mangrove Rat 38 months ago | reply

      You mean mute. I have not heard anyone use dumb with the meaning you use for decades and not when I lived in England either, hence my extreme surprise. So you would take an animal that was able to speak into the tunnel with you then?
      The tunnel has an interesting history and features, including the horse-drawn traffic design. Photos here, not sure why they were done in negative though, I prefer the non-negative ones The tunnel is 1.5km long....!

    19. O.F.E. 38 months ago | reply

      The only dumb animal I know that is mute is a swan. If I had a dog that talked I'd take it everywhere. I've stood at the mouth of the tunnel at both ends many times, I've even taken pictures but they weren't very good (they have the old tunneling shields that were used during the excacation set up as a sort of triumphal arch) and if I'd known you could walk through it I would have done. Those negative pictures are a bit strange - he has lots of other negatives on his photostream so he obviously thinks it looks good. I have to say that I don't but that's just my opinion.

    20. Keïteï 37 months ago | reply

      Stunning shot!

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