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Work to begin to demolish much-loved gas tower

gas tower
Reading's gas tower – the imposing structure, much-loved by Newtown residents, will be demolished from next week Picture: Phil Creighton

ONE new Reading landmark has appeared overnight in the form of a potential Banksy, but another is about to disappear forever.

The remaining gas holder is due to be demolished next week to allow work to start on 130 flats.

The cast iron column base structure was built in 1887 and, although it has been disused for several years, it is very much part of the skyline, visible to commuters from the railway and for residents of Newtown, which was built around the Reading gasworks and the Huntley and Palmers biscuit factory site.

It is also a familiar site to Wokingham borough residents who walk along the Thames Path and the Kennet & Avon canal towpath.

SGN, which owns the site, has written to Newtown residents to warn them that work to demolish the imposing structure will begin from Monday, March 8, and will be completed by the end of August.

The company said that the ageing structures require significant maintenance to keep them both safe and visually acceptable and that in the long term, the company felt it was not safe or sustainable to do this.

“From an environmental perspective, we are keen to see the land the (gas) holders occupy regenerated for beneficial use,” the letter states.

The work will see the holder structure removed to ground level.

The first phase will see a build-up of water and debris removed from the base of the tank, before the construction work begins.

Heavy machinery and cranes will be used and residents are being warned of noise and vibration during this phase.

Work will take place on weekdays between 8am and 6pm, although set up may start from 7am. Noise levels will be monitored throughout and there is no plans for weekend working.

SGN is also aware of the affection that Newtown residents have for the remaining gas tower – there used to be others on the site – and has pledged to create a record for future generations to appreciate.

In the letter, project manager Mike O’Shea said: “We appreciate that to many these industrial structures represent a visual reminder of your local town’s history.

“As part of the wider dismantling programme, we are committed to working closely with communities and historic societies to ensure the history of your holder is captured for future generations to learn from.

“If you have any stories you would like to share email susan.day@sgn.co.uk.”

Residents have created their own online exhibition, https://www.readinggastower.co.uk/ and artworks are being posted on a special display near The Jolly Anglers pub on Kennetside.

For queries on the project, residents can contact the customer service team by calling 0800 912 1700 or emailing customer@sgn.co.uk

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