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Archaeology Matters

Iconic Victorian gasholder saved from destruction

“I’ve never done anything with heritage before but I want to save this gas holder behind my house and I don’t know where to start.” An unlikely start to a phone conversation that would lead to the listing of an iconic piece of Victorian architecture. But thanks to one man’s concern for a local landmark, Gasholder no.1 overlooking the Oval has been saved from destruction and is now a listed structure.

Gasholder no 1 and 2

Lawrence D’Silva, an ethical investor from South London, loves cricket and found his ideal home overlooking the Kennington cricket ground in South London. However, it wasn’t just the stadium he thought iconic. The imposing site of Gasholder no.1, a striking Victorian wrought-iron Gasholder stood at the other side of his home. He found himself growing to love its stark industrial beauty, so when he received a letter saying it was to be decommissioned, he contacted the Council for British Archaeology (CBA) for advice on how he could protect this local landmark and its iconic silhouette providing the backdrop to international cricket matches at the Oval.

The CBA were able to put Lawrence in touch with a leading expert on gasholders, Malcolm Tucker.  The CBA’s Listed Buildings Caseworker also helped him to craft a listing application to Historic England. "I'm really grateful that the CBA agreed to help out on this issue; I've always had some interest in local heritage but I can't say I've ever had any experience in listing a building and so I think I would have been a bit swamped without their help." Lawrence’s hard work paid off and Historic England today announced that the structure is now listed at Grade II, indicative of its national importance and meaning it is protected from demolition.  This means that developers would have to apply for listed building consent to make significant alterations to the structure in the future.

“Heritage is what people and communities decide is important to them. Lawrence’s work to preserve Gasholder no. 1 is a great example of how anyone can make a real difference and defend their own heritage. The Council for British Archaeology are here to encourage and support people to do just that”

Claire Price, Listed Buildings Caseworker at the Council for British Archaeology

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