Bell Green’s historic gas holders have been granted local listing status by Lewisham Council.
Now disused, the gas holders were used once used to store coal gas and later natural gas
However, local residents set up a campaign to protect the structures, which they argue were instrumental to Sydenham’s development.
The gas holders were once a part of a prominent local gas company in the 19th century, who serviced Lewisham street lighting and the Crystal Palace on the nearby Sydenham Hill.
Originally three gas holders, the third was demolished in 1995 amid fierce public opposition and developed into a Savacentre supermarket. However, residents say this contributed to the closure of some local shops on nearby Bell Green Parade within three years and a marked increase in heavy goods vehicle traffic in the largely residential area.
After Aldi and a development company lodged an application to demolish the remaining two structure and replace them with commercial development local residents led by the Sydenham Society, applied for listed status for the structures.
After hearing Sydenham Society’s petition at a council meeting, deputy mayor, Councillor Alan Smith, said that such gas-holders had “reached the end of [their] useful life”.
The Sydenham Society had previously applied to Historic England for statutory listing of the gas holders. The application was unsuccessful, despite the building’s importance as a 19th century landmark.
While there is no specific statutory protection for locally listed buildings, its new listed status will encourage the council to preserve the structures as much as they can.
Notably, the structures contain pioneering ‘flying lifts’, which allow the central tank to rise above the supporting framework.