Curtain Road Gas Works being excavated

The Curtain Road Gasworks

MOLA team

Archaeological excavation for Brookfield has begun at Principal Place, just north of the City in the London Borough of Hackney. At the site, our team has started exposing extensive remains of the Curtain Road Gasworks which occupied the site during the 19th century.

The gasworks was set up in 1813 by the Gas Light and Coke Company, the world’s first gas company, and supplied gas to the local community. It was produced by heating coal in cast iron ovens known as ‘retorts’, housed within a retort house. The gas rose into a hydraulic main where ammonia and hot tar were drawn off through a tar tower into a tar pit. The gas was then purified through a wet lime process and cooled in the gasholder water. The excavations have revealed evidence for these production processes including a series of tanks and a network of flues that carried hot gasses, along with brick foundations and timber bases of features associated with gas production.

The gasworks were closed in 1871 following the construction of the railway viaduct across the site into Broad Street railway station. By the end of the 19th century, the western part of the site had become a coal yard serviced by the railway, while the eastern part was occupied the railway cutting that still takes the tracks into Liverpool Street.

Archaeological excavation at Principal Place continues throughout the summer during which time the team will investigate the earlier history of the site with its 17th century buildings that fronted onto Curtain Road and Worship Street. The team also hope to find part of a Roman cemetery that lined the main Roman road heading north out of London.

  • Post-medieval
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  • Excavation

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