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Harrogate Gas Company Memorial

As creator of the New Park Heritage Centre it has given me some unforgettable experiences, and two of those that are at the top of the list, involve the Harrogate Gas Company. Indeed, the Company was the very reason for the development of a once independent community.

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Little Wonder Public House

At the time of the millennium, there remained two gasometers on the site and that one close to the top of Electric Avenue was about to be demolished. Transco kindly gave me a tour of the site, with a climb up to the top of both gasometers. From the top of that which stood next to the roundabout, I was able to take a unique photo of The Little Wonder.

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Memorial Stone

Close to this gasometer, just inside the gate into the site from Ripon Way lay a most remarkable memory of the works itself; A fifty year jubilee memorial stone. The size of a large gravestone, it is in the shape of an armorial shield and made of marble. With the Gas Company established in theory in 1845 and built in 1847, the date on the stone commemorates the Company’s fifty years in 1897.

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Pump House

This shield was originally fitted into a window above the door of the Work’s pump house. At the time of the site’s demolition in 1960’s, the stone was moved to the safer spot close to the site’s gate.

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Gasometer location

It will not have gone unnoticed that the last remaining gasometer has now (2023) been demolished and the site basically cleared. With the growing public awareness of the New Park Heritage Centre (NPHC), it was pleasing to find that the demolition team contacted me and offered to donate the shield to the Centre. As such, I met them on site and they gave me a tour of the remains of this last gasometer. It is interesting to see the ring of water that the gasometer rested in, thus sealing it from a gas leak. The small mound in the centre is known as a ‘dumpling’ and was formed by the removal of soil for the water trench.

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Then came the day when the shield was to be transported up the Centre. The team’s vehicle brought the traffic of Ripon Road to a halt as it crossed to make the climb up Omega Street.

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Memorial Stone being moved

Too big to drive down the passageway between the two school buildings, we were thankful to ‘Harrogate Timber’ for the use of their low loader which completed the shield’s journey to the front of the Centre.

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The team

Albeit for such a short time, working with the spirit of the demolition team made what could have been a chore into an unforgettable experience. And most importantly of all, it has saved one of the Gas Company’s most iconic artefacts.

Article and Pictures by Terry Williams, Civic Society member and curator of the New Park Heritage Centre (NPHC).

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