200-year-old gasworks unearthed in Burnley

Burnley Gas Works 1823
Burnley Gas Works 1823

AN HISTORIC gas works first built almost 200 years ago has been unearthed in Burnley.

Workers dug up the remains of a huge underground gasholder tank in Parker Lane, which has not been used for almost a century.

Burnley Gas Works

Burnley Gas Works

The find was made by National Grid, which owns the land, during environmental work to clear contaminated water and soil.

Local historian Roger Frost said it was among the first gas works in the town, and was founded by Burnley Gas Works Company in 1823.

He said: “The gas works was built on a site between the canal and Parker Lane. It was developed into a big gas works, and stood on the spot where Tesco is now.

“It was used for storing coal gas, and a by-product of that was tar. It was there for more than 100 years. It was very successful.”

It was bought in the 1850s by the Burnley Improvement Commission, the forerunner to Burnley Council, and became council property in 1861.

The gas works became among the most efficient in the country, and helped the town generate its own electricity, and also burned off Burnley’s waste in a destructor.

But the works closed in the late 1920s when generation of gas was moved to the Stoneyholme Gas Works, on the site of Burnley College.

The only remnants of Burnley’s gas industry is in Oswald Street, where a gasholder still stands.

National Grid is keen to preserve this hidden part of Burnley’s industrial heritage, and is planning to bury a time capsule at the site.

Keith Johnston, project manager for National Grid Property, said: “We wanted to do something special to ensure this piece of local history is remembered for generations to come. The formers gasworks has been an integral part of Burnley for nearly 200 years, and it seemed a shame to let this history be forgotten.”

The capsule will contain photographs, information on the site’s former use, and a recent copy of a local newspaper.

The company is also hoping to include pieces of work produced by local children to commemorate a historical year for Burnley, following the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee visit.

National Grid is hoping to finalise the time capsule in the coming weeks, and would welcome any suggestions or donations from the local community.

For details, call Tom Martin on 0800 319 6162 or email tom.martin@localdialogue.com.