PortCities London

Powering the City

Gasworks and power station workers

Big employers

Beckton Gas works.
View full size imageBeckton gasworkers, c. 1960. © NMM
The Beckton and East Greenwich gasworks were two of the main employers in the eastern part of London - right up until their closure in the 1960s and 1970s. At its height, more than 5300 workers were employed at the Beckton site.

When the works closed, a natural gas pumping station replaced it. Only 12 men were needed to operate this new facility. This image shows gasworkers at Beckton feeding coal into the retorts.

Leisure time

Beckton Gas Works Sports Day.

View full size imageBeckton gasworks Sports Day. © NMM

Although the work at the East Greenwich and Beckton plants, especially in the early days, was dirty and noisy, the workers did have time to relax.

This photograph shows the men from Beckton enjoying the annual Gas, Light and Coke Company's Sports Day with their families.

The company owners believed they could win the loyalty of their workers and keep trade unions out of the plant by providing such leisure activities and by introducin