The Words Room

Welcome to the Words Room!

Our gas tower has inspired words as well as pictures, ranging from people's memories of the tower to some wonderfully evocative poetry that produces images of its own. Here in the Words Room we gather them together. If you have memories or stories about the gas tower, please send them to us so we can include them in this room!

Gas Tower Haiku - by Fiona Talkington

Fiona's image and haiku were created as part of a collaborative project with Jelly's Associate Artists Scheme.

More about the work of Jelly can be found on their Facebook page and at

The Special Dog in the Gas Tower - by Ester (age 6)

Inspired by Alina Saves The Moon, Ester wrote her own brilliant and imaginative story, set in and around the gas tower. Illustrated and narrated by the author, Ester's short film is a romping adventure with a dog, a lost desert fox, a flamingo and an evil witch!

Gas Tower Power - by Tom Clark

Gas tower, gas tower

Delivered all that power

A visible level, rose and fell

Upward and lower

Cemetery junction

Sit and have your luncheon

Espy the power

Of the mighty gas tower

Elaine Marcham

I used to live in one of the two cottages on the gas works site. I could lay in my bed as a young girl and look at the gas holders. It felt like they were falling sometimes. Many happy memories of Newtown and the gas works site. My Dad worked there and we saw a lot of it. Shame yet more of Reading is going. Thank you for the beautiful pictures and memories.

Rhiannon Stocking-Williams

When he was a small child, my friend believed that men climbing up his nearby gas tower had buckets of gas that they poured in, to fill it up.

Childhood Memories of Gas Tower Holder No.4 - by Jenny Ifill

I lived in Newtown from the age of 5 until 14 when the family moved to Southcote.

I will always hold my time in Newtown with great affection. Lovely memories of the Gasworks, the great neighbourly community and the freedom to play in the then virtually car free roads.

Childhood Memories of Gas Tower Holder No.4

Gas tower of my childhood days, soon to be extinct

No more rising up and down, to heat the homes beneath

It used to be a spectacle to watch throughout the week

Gas tower holder number 4, you really were unique.

Alone and rusting, loved no more, it's really sad to see

Gas tower holder number 4 a fond farewell from me.

When You Miss The Gas Holder - by Mick Wyatt

Tower Works - by Shirley Boyt

One day in 1990 residents awoke to a terrible din. British gas had decided to grit blast all the paint off the gas holder. The noise was awful but worse was yet to come, the dust and flakes of old lead paint started to settle on our roofs, our cars, the school playground and of course the canal. Fish started dying. It was horrendous.

We residents and Councillor Martin Salter called upon British Gas to stop and a protest was held. We protesters were on South Today that evening and the work was stopped until it could be carried out safely. British Gas agreed to address residents at a public meeting which I missed as I went into labour! Great timing!

Anyway the work continued but only when the entire gas holder was swathed in thick polythene and the workers were equipped with protective gear. The residents worst affected by the dust and noise subsequently received £250 each in compensation. This money paid for my daughter's pram.

Gas Tower Control - by Simon Peter French

A few years ago I was sat outside the Jolly Anglers enjoying a pint of cider in the afternoon autumn sun. As the birds came into roost the ones already there would make room for new arrivals by moving down.


Autumn sitting; crisp, cool pint of cider in hand, watching.

Autumn roosting; not knowing why, instinct.

Our gas holder, a transit station, an overnight rest stop to warmer climes.

A flock of birds arrive and flies into a holding pattern like an aeroplane waiting to land, but the runway is occupied.

Directed, as though by an unseen air traffic control, they all move down a rung;

4 to 3

3 to 2

2 to 1

Cleared to land!

In a choreographed formation the new arrivals fly in and land, perfectly spaced by in-built radar.

Can't rest for long; more arrivals.

Air traffic control directions make space.

Evening draws on, time to sleep, time to dream of sunny lands.

Gas Holder No. 4, Reading - by Claire Alcock

It was announced today (22nd January 2021) that permission has finally been granted for the demolition of the gas tower. And so this seems a particularly appropriate day to publish Claire Alcock's poem of farewell. Claire is the vicar of St John and St Stephen's Church, which has views of the gas tower from every corner. If you like her poem you can read more poetry and reflections on her blog,