Sunday, May 18, 2008

THE END OF THE LINE: King's Cross out of joint 3

The 1882 Ordnance Survey Map of London shows nine gasholders just north of St Pancras. They were built by the Imperial Gas Light and Coke Company. Although Imperial stopped making gas here in 1902, some of the holders continued to be used until 1999. Over the years, they were gradually dismantled. The famous “triplets” were taken down in 2002, their parts stacked along Goods Way to be rebuilt at a later date as a frame for new housing.


Now only Gasholder number 8 remains. It is an astonishingly beautiful structure. In a poem on the gasholders, Angela Inglis recalls how “when the sun broke through, a rainbow ran between your arcs and made the raindrops flicker on your metalwork.” The black paint on its stout Doric columns has been scorched by the sun and is peeling off like sunburned skin. Its heart has been cut out and now it lies open to the elements, disconnected gas pipes laying flaccidly in its distended interior. Clumps of daisies, dandelions and poppies blow in the breeze. But still Gasholder 8 stands there, impassive and stubborn, its pink, lacy steel twinkling.

Its future is uncertain, but it is likely to move further up the canal towards the natural park to become the skeleton for a children’s adventure park. The triplet of gasholders will be re-assembled nearby. Pancras Square will be roughly where Gasholder 8 is now – it will host water features, bars, cafes and restaurants.


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