East Greenwich Gas Works

From London's Ghost Acres

Construction began in 1881 and ended in 1886. By the time it was complete, a previously greenfield marsh had been transformed into a modern coal gas works; supplying London with town gas for cooking, lighting, and heat. The East Greenwich Gas Works stretched for 2 kilometres along the Greenwich Peninsula and occupied some 240 acres. It featured an extensive internal railway to move coal, and two massive gas holders at the southern tip of the site. These gas holders at East Greenwich represented significant technological achievement in their day; the first to be built in 1886 was the first ever four-lift (moving section) gas holder in the world. While the second was significant simply because of it's massive size with a volume of 12,200,000 cubic feet, the largest in the world at the time; although it's capacity would be reduced to 8,900,000 cubic feet as a result of the 1917 Silvertown explosion. The plant continued to produce coal gas until the 1960s, when it began to produce gas from crude oil. This conversion to oil gasification greatly increased capacity, to the point that in 1965 400,000,000 cubic feet of gas was produced, more than any other single plant in the world. The introduction of North Sea gas in 1976 rendered oil gasification uneconomical, however, and the gas works were largely demolished over the next ten years. (source?)

Gas works were used to produce and store flammable coal gas. Coal was mined in Britain and then shipped on a barge up rivers or on trains to the gas works. There it was burned to create the gas, which was then purified and put into the gas holders until needed for consumer use to light streets and buildings. The process also created coke, tar, ammonia, and sulphur as by-products.


1886 to 1976


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Located in



Gas, Tar, Coke, Ammonia, Sulphur

Used Raw Materials



From To Owner
1886 1949 South Metropolitan Gas Company
1949 1980 British Gas Corporation


From To Industry
1886 1960 Coal Gas Industry
1960 1976 Oil and Petroleum Industry