Aug 2023

Gas engineers re-enact historic lunch at Granton gasholder

Gas professionals gathered at Granton Waterfront to reenact a historic lunch which originally took place prior to the iconic Granton gasholder being put into use in 1901. The lunch, on Tuesday 8 August, marked the demolition of the bell of the gasholder, which is part of the wider regeneration of the area that will see the gasholder restored and repurposed.

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IGEM CEO, Oliver Lancaster, said: "It’s a genuine delight to have the opportunity to visit such a special gasholder in Granton, Edinburgh, which has been used for many years to keep homes warm, put hot food on the table and power businesses in the region.

"This stunning landmark has played a significant contribution to balancing local energy supply and demand since it was commissioned, shortly after the 1901 luncheon my colleagues from yesteryear enjoyed. The gas industry has a rich history that we should celebrate, like we are doing today, while we also work hard to secure an affordable energy system for the future and develop the role of hydrogen in the transformation of our sector."

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Historic records on the original lunch said that attendees were taken ‘by special train’ to a ‘special station’ built for the gasworks in Granton where more than 50 members were met by ‘the Edinburgh and Leith Gas Commissioner’. The documents go on to describe the gasholder as ‘a works that promises to be a model of structural beauty and mechanical ingenuity’.

The station mentioned in the documents is the former Granton Station which has been completely refurbished and will be managed from this year by social enterprise charity Wasps Studios, who work across Edinburgh and Scotland, to provide affordable workspace for artists and the creative industries. The newly created Granton Station Square in front of the building will also be host to events and local community activity events in the coming years. 

Last week, the City of Edinburgh Council announced that the bell that floated up as water filled the gasholder in Granton Waterfront, has been taken apart. The work carried out by McLaughlin & Harvey is part of the ongoing restoration works using £16.4m from the UK Government’s Levelling Up Fund. The money is being used to restore the original 76 x 46 metre frame to look like new.

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Using a further £1.2m from the Scottish Government, the Council plan to open up the area to create a new and exciting multifunctional public space within the gasholder frame as part of their wider £1.3bn regeneration project to create a new sustainable coastal town at Granton Waterfront.

McLaughlin & Harvey Contracts Manager Graham Brown said: "We were delighted to host the Institution of Gas Engineers & Managers at our Granton Gas Holder project today to mark the luncheon held on-site back in 1901. The gas holder has an interesting and rich history which we are delighted to be adding to the next chapter of with our restoration works."

Council leader Cammy Day said: "The gasholder is so much more than a giant steel structure and is steeped in local history. I’m really pleased that the industry is reenacting the original lunch in this way creating another event for the history books.

"The gasholder can be seen for miles around so I’m very excited about our plans to transform it to serve the local community and visitors with a completely different purpose as a place for people to enjoy arts, sports, leisure and culture for years to come. We will make sure the gasholder becomes the centre piece of our wider £1.3bn regeneration of the area with thousands of environmentally friendly homes, well connected to the rest of city, culture and art spaces and more planned."