Gas holders

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steve howe
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Gas holders

Postby steve howe » Sun Dec 05, 2010 9:36 am

Hi all,
Can anyone suggest (or perhaps remember) if there was a general colour scheme used on gasometers in local small town gasworks in the mid to late 1930's? Most of the ones I remember from the 1960s and 70s were a pale grey/blue with large patches of rust showing through. I have heard that early tanks were painted black (which would make sense - bituminous paint was cheap and plentiful) or dark green. My scheme is immediate pre-War2.

Many thanks
Steve

Philbax
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Re: Gas holders

Postby Philbax » Mon Dec 06, 2010 2:35 pm

I have seen a number of photos of trains leaving ST Pancras station with the gasholder in the background. It appears to be painted black.

martin goodall
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Re: Gas holders

Postby martin goodall » Tue Dec 07, 2010 12:31 pm

My memories go back only as far as the 1950s, when the gasholders on the site of what had been our local gasworks were painted green. These were in the area of what had by this time become the North Thames Gas Board.

If anyone can come up with more definite information for the inter-war period, I would certianly be interested in the answers, as I am now planning a gasworks for the Burford Branch.

[It does occur to me that there may not have been a universal practice for the painting of gasholders before the Second World War, bearing in mind that before the nationalisation of the gas industry in the late 1940s, the gas industry comprised a large number of independent companies widely varying in size - some large (like the Gas Light & Coke Company in London) and some very small.]

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steve howe
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Re: Gas holders

Postby steve howe » Wed Dec 08, 2010 12:58 pm

I have been researching the Gas business lately and one thing that has struck me is the extraordinary variety between gasworks, it seems, as Martin observes, some were huge and highly mechanised whereas others were very small indeed, with most of the transport around site being in wheelbarrows. There is also a wide range of equipment from different eras, and it seems that, like pre-war railways, replacement of equipment was on a piecemeal basis with some old but servicable items being kept in use alongside more modern plant. Although the basic process is common to all, the local gasworks were very individual and often show clear evidence of rebuilding and expansion at various periods to meet increasing demand. This gives modellers a great deal of scope!
Steve

martin goodall
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Re: Gas holders

Postby martin goodall » Thu Dec 09, 2010 12:29 pm

Further to Steve's note, it is worth noting that not all gasworks were rail-connected. Even those in towns which actually had a railway were sometimes remote from the line, and coal had to be carted from the station to the gasworks. Even where the gasworks was right alongside the line, it was not always served by a private siding (in which case, again, the coal had to be carted from the goods yard to the gasworks). This does mean that you can have a gasworks on your layout without necessarily having to arrange a siding into it.

Quite a few small towns which were remote from the railway system had a gasworks, which must have involved hauling coal by road quite a long way in some cases. Burford (the real town in West Oxfordshire) which I have imagined for the purposes of my model to be rail-connected, was in fact some miles from the nearest railhead, but it did have a gasworks, founded in 1864, which finally closed during the First World War. It was a very small affair with only one gasholder, situated behind the High Street at the lower end of the town. For the purposes of my layout, I have assumed that the arrival of the railway in Burford in the 1860s would have persuaded the gas company to locate its works beside the line, and I hope to be able to arrange a siding into the gasworks, as a soucre of additional traffic on the layout.

But I still haven't decided what colour to paint the gasholder(s). Green is currently the preferred colour, but I would be interested in other people's researches and observations.

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steve howe
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Re: Gas holders

Postby steve howe » Fri Dec 10, 2010 9:12 am

For anyone else interested in this subject area, an account of a very nice 4mm model complete with ground plan can be found at:

http://www.countrysidemodels.co.uk/gallery_general/gswks/gasworks3.htm

and a very full account of the industry and processes with modelling notes (albeit generally aimed at 2mm scale) is at:

http://www.igg.org.uk/gansg/12-linind/gasworks.htm

Steve

martin goodall
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Re: Gas holders

Postby martin goodall » Fri Dec 10, 2010 3:00 pm

Very helpful. Thanks, Steve.

The first link relates to a model gasworks which was the subject of a series of articles in (I think) Model Rail a few years ago. The articles described the models and how they were made in rather more detail than is given in the captions on the web page.

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Wizard of the Moor
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Re: Gas holders

Postby Wizard of the Moor » Fri Dec 10, 2010 8:23 pm

You may find some useful information at The Gas Museum - more likely by direct contact than by reading the website.

Certainly when I worked in the industry, the museum staff had a very good reputation for being both knowledgeable and helpful.

Joe Newman
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Re: Gas holders

Postby Joe Newman » Sat Dec 18, 2010 2:26 pm

I asked a non-modeller friend of mine who researched his local gas works in Bewdley, and he replied as follows.

Gas holders - the colour has varied with time. In the 1870s they were commonly painted a brilliant red but later more subdued colours were chosen although those in Westminster were a yellow colour. During the war they were camouflaged. The large waterless ones that were bigger caused a certain amount of controversy and there was so much agro over one in Harrow that it was painted in undulating lines of green that became lighter the higher you went up ending up a silver grey. Today they are painted grey all over. All the pictures of conventional holders I have seen are a dull dirty greyish brown. If your modellers want to be more accurate there is a quarterly magazine called Historic Gas Times produced by the Instution of Gas Engineers and Managers. Their editor Barry Wilkinson has a massive database and could probably tell you about specific holders. The other source of info is the National Gas Museum in Leicester.

I hope this will be of use.

Joe Newman


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