Farewell to the Gas Tower: digital exhibition

Our iconic gas tower is due for demolition early in 2021. Before the Covid19 pandemic we had planned a community art exhibition as part of a series of events and exhibitions to celebrate the gas tower and its place in our community. We hope this event will still take place in the future, but in the meantime, we are hosting an online exhibition right here on this page! We hope to create a record of part of Reading's skyline that will soon be gone forever.

We are still collecting stories and memories of the tower for our Words Room and images for the Artists' Studio. Please write to if you'd like to contribute.

Curated by Mary Chambers and Leslee Barron

Please note that by submitting material to us you are confirming that the image is your original work and that you own the copyright.

Gas Tower Gallery: Introducing Our Rooms

Pop into The Film Room to see astonishing views from Laurence Farmer's drone, and Susan Rivers' beautiful sequence of time lapse photography.

Visit The Snow Room for our collection of photos of the gas tower's last snow day (don't forget your gloves!).

In The Artists' Studio, you can discover paintings, drawings, abstractions and digital twists on reality - does the tower really look like that?

The Words Room is the place for memories, poems, images of the tower created through words. Send us your creative writing and tower stories!

A Walk by the Tower - by Louisa Crispin

Louisa took these photos while visiting her son in Reading. "Such an amazing iconic structure!"

Newts and the Tower - by Carol Meunier

Carol paid a visit to the tower while delivering our fantastic community magazine, Newt. Check out the online version if you haven't seen it yet - the Gas Tower Gallery is featured!

She also spotted the tower on the skyline from the university's Foxhill gate.

Gasworks 1966 - by Liz Turner

Liz Turner took these photos of the tower and the gasworks in Spring 1966. The Reading landscape was very much more industrial, but there are also features that don't appear to have changed at all.

The Tower and the Thames - by Fabricio and Joana

Fabricio and Joana took this photo with their drone on a clear sunny day. The tower is almost white, with the blue waters of the Thames and the gravel pits stretching away to the horizon.

Instagram: @memoryjunkies

Changing Landscape - by Paul Mattingly

Paul's photo shows the tower in the rapidly changing urban landscape of this part of Reading. The lights of cranes on other building sites are visible through the tower, a glimpse of what will eventually happen on this site too.

Instagram: @pnm563

Cleaning The Tower - by Jilly Rose

In 1990 the tower was cleaned and repainted. Jilly Rose took this shot of the structure encased in scaffolding and wrapped in tarpaulins using an old-school film SLR camera. The works were quite disruptive - read Shirley Boyt's story about how the tower's paint job paid for her new pram!

Leave A Light On - by James Lay-Flurrie

Instagram: @jameslf1989

Misty River and the Gas Tower - by Mandy Walsh

Shooting Through The Gaps - by Richard Parkes

Richard Parkes presents a very different view of the tower with his close ups and glimpses. Richard says: "I tried to tell the story of the tower, with the intimate shots, the textures and parts that make it rather than just the overall view. Also shooting through the gaps creates a more minimalist image and makes the viewer wonder more about the structure, and create a little curiosity about it….’glimpses' rather than the whole structure."

More of Richard's work can be seen on his website and on Instagram.

Towering Neighbour - by Tori Yates

Tori is a Newtown resident and can see the tower from her living room window. Her photos show the diversity of colours that appear on the tower, and its clarity against the sky. She'll miss it when it's gone!

Instagram: @toriyates

Viewed From Above - by Laurence Farmer

An awesome aerial view from Laurence's drone (post-production work by Callum Cromwell). What does the structure make you think of, viewed from this angle? The top of the tank is pieced together in a pattern that wouldn't look out of place on a patchwork quilt, and the framework from this angle reminds me of a spider's web.

To see more of Laurence's drone footage, please visit our Film Room!

Scattered Clouds - by Tushita Roy

Doris' Birthday Party on the Coal - by Pogle Stowell

In September 1985 the gas tower stood witness to an historic event. It was Doris' Birthday Party on the Coal, celebrated with a free 'make your own' festival (scroll down for the invitation!). But who the heck was Doris? 'She' was a codeword for Reading Anarchists and their friends, celebrating their 20th anniversary. As a spokesman at the time said, "The name Doris applies to all the people taking part. It is unifying everybody in a belief of peace and freedom."

This photo was taken very early on the Sunday with a local folk outfit on stage.

The area where Tesco now stands was known as 'the Coal' because it was the tip for both the gas works and the railway.

And what was on the programme at this free alternative to the commercialised Reading Festival? The party invitation tells us that live bands, dead bands and elastic bands were all included, and a lot more besides!

Read more about the party and the controversy surrounding it in Pogle Stowell's fabulous collection of press cuttings, with more pictures of the event here.

Tower on the Skyline - by Sue Beckett

The tower is a landmark on Reading's skyline from all directions. Sue Beckett will miss her view of it!

Rainbows - by Monika Szczerba

Monika captured rainbows in the gas tower (on two different days) from the block of flats at Avon Place. We love the bird sweeping home towards the tower, and how the tower is illuminated so brightly against the stormy sky.

Surrounded by Trees - by Ian Ladlow

Many photos of the tower present the tower against the sky or in the water, a lone last remnant of an industrial landscape. In Ian Ladlow's photos it is surrounded by trees and becomes part of a much greener and more domesticated scene, on a still day beside the Kennet. It constantly amazes us how each photographer has a unique perspective on the tower!

Changing Skies - by Ian Barthelemy

Ian Barthelemy brings us a series of dramatic skies, from storm to sunshine, and an unusual view of the tower rising above Newtown School.

Our Beautiful Gas Tower - by Jane Kenyon

Reading’s last existing example of such beautiful Victorian engineering... soon to be lost forever.

Gasometer and pigeon - by Tim Wilson

The gasometer and its telescopic tank would periodically rise and fall. Occasionally you'd notice these phases, of an industrial lung, breathing on the edge of our urban landscape.

You can follow Tim's photo scrapbook on Instagram: @spiritsofammonia

View from the London train - by Jo Northway

A surprisingly rare view in the Gas Tower Gallery, but one that's familiar to many, whether or not they live in Reading. Jo Prune captures the rush of lights and pylons as the tower appears on departure from Reading Station (taken September 2020).

Instagram: @blackkitten_kitkatjo

Being 'Home' - by Andrew Milbank

I’m not from Reading but have lived around east Reading now for 20 years. After moving here, the gas towers became the first thing that I associated with being ‘home’. It’s such a shame we’ll now lose the last one.

Colours of the Tower - by Penelope Dwelly

When I first moved to Cumberland Road I wasn’t a fan of the gas tower. It loomed large over sleepy Victorian Newtown piercing the sky. A giant monstrous metal carbuncle from an older Industrial age! However over the years I’ve grown to love it. It’s like an old friend standing guard over where I live. A guiding beacon showing me the way home. The colours of each season are reflected in its metal work. Orange and gold in the autumn light. Violet and blue in the summer sun and a ghostly white in the dead of night. It’s a hangout for chattering birds who watch local residents go about their business. It tells a story about the history of Reading about human endeavour, science and industry. I will miss it when it’s gone.

Instagram: @dwelspen

Reading Gasholder - by Laura Fisher

Laura Fisher is a documentary photographer with a passion for gasholders, who has spent the last 5 years traveling around the UK photographing these structures to create a visual archive. She is at present working on a photobook of the holders which hopefully will be in print by the Spring/Summer. See more about Laura's project here.

Instagram: @laurafisherphoto

A grey day provides the best light - by Mark Cox

As Leonardo Da Vinci said, "A grey day provides the best light". The grey light in this black and white image has certainly captured the industrial rawness and decay of the tower.

Instagram: mark_j_cox

Gas Tower Birds - by Leslee Barron

Leslee Barron's birds were a delightful feature of her illustrations in the picture book, Alina Saves The Moon. Here we see some more of the gas tower's best known residents up close, sitting on one of their favourite pipes. You can see more of Leslee's work here.

Gasworks - by Penny

These photos contributed by Penny move away from the gas tower to explore the massive network of pipes that surrounded the towers, some of which still exists on both sides of the Kennet. Penny's linocuts of the gas pipes can be viewed in our Artists' Studio.

Day and Night - by Jon O'Donoghue

This is Reading - by Melanie J

Mel says "My favourite gas tower pic! For me seeing the tower coming round the bend of the river upstream was always a very this-is-Reading moment!"

Instagram: @mellymel_ramstone

Snow - by Rebecca Stevens

Almost a pair with Mel's photo, Rebecca Stevens captured the tower from the same angle, but in the thickly falling snow.

Reflections and silhouettes - by Philip Ball

Instagram: @insta_readinguk

Gasometer - by Jez Dyer

Jez Dyer gives us another striking black and white image of the tower. Here it looks almost like black lace against a herringbone sky.

The Weathered Tower - by Mary Chambers

The tower in my photos is all about the weather. It becomes a frame or filter for the sky, almost like a barometer, and in every light it looks different. It can be black against the sunset, grey on a sunny day, brilliantly illuminated against storm clouds.

Golden light on the tower on an October morning made me take the photo that inspired Leslee Barron's beautiful cover for my picture book, Alina Saves The Moon.

And after a storm, the real life Alina once found the gas tower in a puddle!

Moonlight - by Susan Rivers

The moon is in the gas tower again! It's a sickle moon this time, but its full shape is visible, and the light is bright enough to reflect off the columns and illuminate the tower, while the roofs of Newtown School are a black silhouette in the foreground.

Another project from Susan Rivers, who has a fantastic view of the tower in all its moods from her house, will be appearing here soon!

Gas Tower on a Winter's Night - by Joy Stuart Olver

Gas Tower in the Kennet - by Penny

Cemy Junction Gas Tower - by The Burly Photographer

Today's contribution is from Richard McKenzie, a.k.a. the Burly Photographer, with some dramatic black and white images and a stunning sunset. You can see more of Richard's work on Instagram: @richard_mckenzie_photography (portraits and fine art) and @theburlyphotographer (burlesque). Richard's images, including some of these photos, can be purchased from his RedBubble shop.

Newtown Gas Tower in the Kennet - by Rhiannon Stocking-Williams

Reading photographer Rhiannon Stocking-Williams won the Pride of Reading Award 2019 for this photo of the gas tower. Rhiannon held her first exhibition early in 2020 at Picnic Cafe. More of her work can be seen on her website.