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Powering the City

Why were power stations and gasworks built in East London?
Producing gas
East Greenwich Gasworks
Beckton Gasworks
Electricity generation
Greenwich Power Station
Deptford Power Station
Gasworks and power station workers
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East Greenwich Gasworks

Serving south London

Greenwich Gas Works.
View full size imageEast Greenwich gasworks. © NMM
The East Greenwich works were planned in the 1880s as a large 'out-of-town' gas factory to fulfil the growing needs of south London.

At that time, the South Metropolitan Gas Company had claims to be the top gas company in the country. Its works on the Greenwich peninsula rivalled those across the river at Beckton.





North Sea competition

Millenium Dome from the River.
View full size imageThe Millennium Dome from the River Thames. © NMM
Gas production ceased in 1976 after the discovery of huge reserves of natural gas in the North Sea. The former site of the gasworks is now home to the Millennium Dome.

The building sits on the very edge of the longitudinal Greenwich Meridian. That is the location most nations use to measure their local time.

Giant works

Greenwich Gas Works
View full size imageEast Greenwich gasworks as viewed from Greenfell Street. © NMM
The East Greenwich works dominated the skyline of the Greenwich peninsula. The site eventually covered 60 hectares (150 acres) with a river frontage stretching for about 1.5 km (just over 1 mile).

All of the buildings were on a grand scale. The four retort houses, for example, were nearly 150 m (485 feet) long and 22 m (73 feet) wide. Each had stores that could hold 6500 tons of coal.


Find out more
StoriesThe 19th-century port
Docks and industry transform the Thames
StoriesThe 20th-century port
The changing fortunes of Docklands and the port
Related Resources
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Related Fact file2 Fact file
National Maritime Museum/Royal Observatory GreenwichNew Opportunities Fund 
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