Pictures show work underway to demolish huge Armley Gyratory gas tower

The demolition of a huge gas holder in West Leeds that became an unlikely landmark has begun.

Friday, 5th February 2021, 4:45 pm
The demolition has begun on a gas tower in Wortley on Wellington Road

The Wellington Road gas holder in Wortley was erected in the 1950s, but has been obsolete for several decades since it was superseded by new technology.

It is one of the last buildings left on a site that has been supplying Leeds with gas since the 1820s - and which has played a key role in the city's industrial history.

Now, the "local skyline feature" tower is being dismantled by Northern Gas Networks - the owners of the structure.

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The tower has become a "landmark" to local residents

Leeds Facebook users have dubbed the gas tower a "landmark", with one saying it is "landmark from her childhood" and another questioning, "why take it down, it's a landmark?".

One resident also commented that Wortley "will look strange without it there" and another said "what a shame, always on the landscape".

A specialist team is dismantling the holder currently in work that is expected to finish next February.

Senior project manager Mark Johnson said: “For around 100 years, gas holders were a vital part of the local gas supply system, responsible for storing manufactured coal gas which was supplied to thousands of people across the region.

“However, advances in technology and a move towards renewables and greener alternatives to natural gas means that gas holders are no longer used.

"The holders have become expensive to maintain, and a phased programme of removal, both in the north of England and across the UK, has been underway for several years.

“The Wortley gas holder has been a feature on the local skyline for over a century.

"It is a familiar sight to local people, who have grown up with it always being there.

"That’s why we are encouraging residents to commemorate the gas holder before it disappears from the skyline.”

Leeds Gas Company were the first owners of the gasworks, but by 1890 it had been sold to the local council and the facility became the centre of a violent strike.

Managers attempted to cut both hours and pay, and used blackleg labour when workers walked out. A riot ensued and numerous workers and police officers were injured.

The Riot Act had to be read and the strikers were threatened with military intervention.

The site's dramatic story continued during World War Two, when the gasworks were damaged in an air raid after an incendiary bomb exploded nearby. The buildings were reinforced to protect them against more attacks.

The last remaining tank was originally called Holder Five and was built in 1954. The tanks stored manufactured coal gas, which has since been replaced with greener energy.