Saturday, May 3, 2014
Warwick in progress
In Warwick recently, I thought I’d walk a little way out of the town centre to have a look at the gas works, a building of 1822 that was said to be one of the oldest and best preserved early gas works in the country. I found that the builders were in, but that I could still make out the outline of the original building above their bright blue protective fencing.
To say that the gas works is preserved is true, up to a point. The gas holders, once contained in the octagonal towers at either end, are long gone, but the walls that contained them are still there, together with the connecting office building in between, so that one can get a good idea of the front of the original building. The whole is stuccoed and the facade has those concentric semicircular arches that Regency builders so liked. Gothic glazing bars are being replaced in the windows, those in the tower originally being false.
The original builders seem to have gone to a lot of trouble to wrap their gas works in elegant clothing – it’s all a far cry from the more familiar exposed gasometers, all girders and rust, that have an attraction all their own. The result is that the building, now it is a gasworks no more, can have other lives. It was converted to offices, but is now being made over once more to provide housing, with a scheduled completion time of spring 2015. It seems a good solution for a building that has outlived its original use but whose facade and exterior form is certainly worth preserving. A worthwhile work in progress.