Sunday, 2 May 2010

Sunday Gas about Ramsgate Gasworks.

The main thing that I have taken an interest in over the last week, has been the demolition and remediation work taking place at Ramsgate Gasworks, this is very important as there is an intention to put 100 dwellings on the site.

I am gathering historical information about the gasworks and any help with this would be much appreciated.

I got involved in this one because neither the gas company nor the demolition firm contacted TDCs contaminated land officer before the work commenced, as they had previously promised to do so, this made me concerned that the decontamination wasn’t being supervised in the proper way.

There are several aspects of this that concern me, one being that disturbing the site that contains some chemical nasties could mean that some of them come our way, the other day there was dust blowing from the site. I have since heard that the contaminated land officer has visited the site and that they are now damping down to prevent this from happening.

The part of the site where they are working is still uncategorised, I take this to mean that they don’t know what is there in the way of contaminants, putting on my science and engineering hat for a moment, Cyanide and Arsenic are two of the many unpleasant chemicals that would be likely to be there, not something that we want blowing over the town.

Another aspect is the long term implications could be for the people living in the 100 dwellings if the decontamination is not done properly, as some of the chemicals that would have worked down through the porous chalk under the site would give off vapours that would leak up through the ground, long term exposure to these would lead to health problems, including genetic ones.

There may also be drinking water contamination issues here, it is fairly close to an adit (underground horizontal tunnel) leading to The Lord of The Manor pumping station. This combined with the likelihood that the gasworks would have had a well to provide water needed for processing the gas, my concern here is that if it is not properly plugged it could provide a path for the nasties down to the water table.

One of the problems associated with these sites are the gas holders, the older ones consist of a brick lined pit filled with water with a metal gas tank without a bottom floating on top. As more gas is pumped into the tank it rises up floating on the water, the main problem is that a lot of chemical nasties accumulate in the water and that brick lined pits leak. The water carries the nasties down through the chalk below.

So far I have discovered that the gasworks has had six of these gasholders, since it was established in 1824.

When it first started the gasworks was on the other side of Boundary Road, where Aldi Supermarket is now, for a time it operated on both sides of the road and then moved completely onto the site that is being demolished at the moment.

When Aldi supermarket was built I hadn’t developed an interest in local history, so I don’t yet know if the people who built it were even aware that they were doing so on top of an old gasworks, or if the site was properly decontaminated.

I will endeavour to gas on as the day progresses.


  1. Michael, I know that during the demolition of the old Ford dealership/building of Aldi, work was halted for a fair while. I had been told it was due to the workmen uncovering a mass grave, from the plague. Perhaps this was true, or they might have been doing the decotamination work you talk about here??

  2. 14.21 A mass grave sounds a bit unlikely as at the time of the great plague this would have been isolated farmland, I also think that the whole site would have been heavily excavated as the gasworks developed there over about 60 years.

  3. Aldi supermarket & car park is built on what was St. George's new burial ground. My ggg grandparents were buried there in 1858 & 1870.

    A few years ago, I contacted the Vicar of St. George's, as I couldn't work out exactly where they were buried & he told me that the car park area - which was wasteland when I was a kid in the 70s - still had earth graves under it & because of that, nothing more than a car park could be built on top.

    I believe he also said that when they wanted to build on the land - not sure if it was the garage or the supermarket - some of the graves were excavated & the stones placed around the wall of the churchyard. As far as I can remember, the stones have been there for years & years, so maybe it was the garage.

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  5. This map section may help: Gas Works in 1872

    The full map can be seen at the Ramsgate Remembered Website

  6. 15.52 All of Aldi supermarket and part of the car park is on an old gasworks site the other part of the car park is on St Georges Burial Ground.

    Thanks Phil I noticed that I couldn’t copy the image of the map from where you had published the whole map so this is very useful for my file on the gasworks’.


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