Search for former workers of giant Beckton gasworks

A SEARCH has been going on for former workers of the old Beckton Gasworks in East London to help rescue’ the history of one of Britain’s biggest industries. Researchers from Eastside Community Heritage have been looking for anyone who was employed at the gasworks, for an oral history project launched today (July 14) at a gasworks reunion’ at Stratford Library.

By Mike Brooke

A SEARCH has been going on for former workers of the old Beckton Gasworks in East London to help rescue’ the history of one of Britain’s biggest industries.

Researchers from Eastside Community Heritage have been looking for anyone who was employed at the gasworks, for an oral history project launched today (July 14) at a gasworks reunion’ at Stratford Library.

BECK’S TOWN

Beckton gets its name from the gasworks which were opened in 1868 by Adam Beck, governor of the Gas Light & Coke Company.

Beck’s Town’ in its Victorian heyday had two churches, a pub, garden, clock tower and even its own railway station and branch line with regular steam trains into Canning Town and Stratford.

It was one of the biggest industrial sites in Britain, stretching from East Ham down to the Royal Docks.

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A coat of arms designed for the new Borough of East Ham in 1904 included two flaming torches, symbolizing the great Beckton gasworks.

The derelict site appeared in a number of films since it closed down in 1970, after 102 years producing coal gas for East London. These included the 1981 James Bond thriller For Your Eyes Only, starring Roger Moore, and Kubrick’s 1987 US Vietnam war movie Full Metal Jacket.

REUNION

The reunion at Stratford Library has been a chance for former employees to get together and talk about old times, while staff from Newham Archives displayed a rich collection of documents and memorabilia on the gasworks.

The launch is part of Eastside Community Heritage’s Working Lives of the Thames Gateway project to record the memories of those who made East London a thriving industrial heartland.

The charity set up a People’s Archive in 1999, located at the University of East London, which holds more than 1,000 oral histories as well as a large collection of films and photographs and runs its own Eastside Community Heritage website.

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