Yarm Town Gas Holder c1950’s

Before we took our gas supplies from a national network each town had their own supply of ‘town gas’ of which both Stockton and Yarm did and the Yarm gasometer or holder was off West Street opposite St Marys Church. The former site has been built upon now but I seem to remember that not too long ago the land had to be cleaned and decontaminated because of possible contamination?.

Of all the local town gas gasometers only the one in Middlesbrough next to the A66 still survives but that too is due for demolition and with it goes another local landmark!.

Photograph and details courtesy of David Thompson.

5 thoughts on “Yarm Town Gas Holder c1950’s

  1. That looks like a frame guided single lift nearly empty, they came in many guises, frame guided double lifts, Spiral guided triple lifts and even the odd single tank with a moving roof we called them German types.
    Some seventy years ago as a young apprentice I worked with the leak gang for a short while and what an eye opener that was. The tops made of thinner metal than the bottom tiers 3/16 or 1/4 plate leaked after years of bad weather and we patched them whilst they were live or filling. We had some discs with a bolt welded through the middle some industrial rubber and a trepanning drill.
    A guide hole was drilled in the part needing the repair, then the trepanning tool put in place and the leaking area cut out. We put the plate with the welded bolt the larger rubber disc and the bar that went across patch and onto the top of the gas holder into the perfectly cut hole holding the bolt very tightly, I was told if it fell into the tank they would send me in after it?
    The Nuts on the bolt were screwed down on to the bar across the patch and tank that pulled the rubber into position sealing the gap and the nuts tightened down, job done. Some of the tops looked like Hedgehogs.
    All that a long time ago although I can still smell the acrid stench of Town gas. We learned to do many things before H&S took all the fun out of living, one was to get on the windward side of the leak which was around 15 PSI so easily disposed by a breeze. As with other long lost arts it will never come back but I did use it to stem holes in Jerry Cans when we had a shortage in the Desert.
    Frank.

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    • Frank. I thought the most serious problem was when the rivets pulled allowing gaps to form between the plates. This could happen if the pressure in the holder was allowed to drop to a low level, causing the top to be squashed down.

      The early gas holders were made of wrought iron. When this material fell out of use in the 1920s, Armco Iron was specified. This was a form of steel which had no carbon in it at all, and was considered to have as good a resistance to corrosion as had wrought iron. Wrought iron also contains no carbon.

      The liquefied natural gas is not compressed. During transport by ship, some of it gradually boils away, the vapour being used as a fuel in the ships engines or boilers. LNG as it is called comes into Teesside, I understand, amongst other ports in this country.

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      • Fred, that did happen but they were caulked. There was no way of renewing the rivets without removing all the gas, water seals and sludge first, too big a job.
        Caulking involved driving rope fibre into the gap and then turning the overlapping edge of the riveted section with a windy gun to hold the caulking.
        We often had to caulk low pressure boilers where seams leaked and it worked as a stop gap repair. With boilers you could block a tube and weld the stopper, there was no way you could use flame on a gas holder and even when trepanning we used a continuous flow of water as it was live when we worked on the Holder.
        Gas holder plates were not swaged and usually only had a single row of rivets as they were low pressure I did not see many leaking seams.
        Boiler makers had some ingenious ways of stopping leaks but it became much easier when welding was better developed. Much like the old car radiators you could remove and blanc as much as 25% and still run.
        That is engineering for you, there is always an answer to every problem, in my case I kept a notebook beside the bed as the answer usually came around three in the morning.
        Frank.

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  2. When I was a child, I often walked past the Newport Gasometer and guessed wrongly, it must contain the towns water supply. The UK currently produces enough gas to meet almost half of its needs from the North Sea and East Irish Sea. We also import 47% of the gas we use via pipelines from Europe and Norway. The remaining 13% comes in to the UK by tankers in the form of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). To compress it for transportation it is cooled to 160 degrees. As Paul Getty, the USA billionaire once said: “To become super rich all you have to do is find an hole in the ground – full of oil or gas?”

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