During most of its history much of Beckton was flat, low-lying marshland. In the 19th century, when the east of London was used to serve the needs of the west, the Gas Light and Coke Company bought 218 hectares (540 acres) in the area. In 1868 they started work on what eventually became Europe's largest gasworks.
The works were built to serve the whole of London. This picture shows the part-built works during a visit by members of the Society of Engineers in September 1869. The construction of the gasworks was one of London's largest engineering projects.
The company decided to build the works just to the west of Barking Creek because it was close to the new docks. The Victoria Dock had opened in 1855 and the Albert Dock in 1880. The huge scale of the plant is evident from this photograph.
Although British Gas had an operational office on the site until the early 1990s, all that remains of the Beckton works today is a grass-covered mound of industrial waste known as the 'Beckton Alps' and one of the old gasometers.