Around 18 months ago, when Ewan MacColl's wife, Peggy Seeger, became aware that the Salford gas holders made world famous in his Dirty Old Town anthem were to be demolished, she echoed the horror that many people in the community felt...*
"The gasworks skeleton, rusty or not, is magnificent" she told the Salford Star "If we didn't live in a land-grabbing commercial system, the gasworks scaffolding could have been strengthened and turned into latticework for climbing plants.
"The internal spaces could hold a maze, a secret garden, a cafe, trees…fountains… secret spaces to discover...somewhere unlike anywhere in the world" she added "Good for the environment and Salford's fresh air, and a magic place for children of any age..."
Unfortunately, due to the lack of imagination of anyone in authority, her words fell on deaf ears. While other cities have preserved their gas holders and turned them into parks and flats, Salford City Council gave lip-service to the heritage, announcing that it would do a 'project' around the remaining gasworks wall – even though the wall was never mentioned in the MacColl song (The Pogues changed the words!).
In May this year, as workmen moved onto the Liverpool Street site, there was a petition urging the National Grid to change its mind, while there were two protests with musicians playing Dirty Old Town by the side of the structures.
"Improvements and modernisation in technology for storing gas mean individual gas holders haven't been used for many years" a spokesperson for the National Grid told the Salford Star "As the Salford gas holder is no longer required, the structure is being dismantled. This is the first step in making redundant brownfield land available for future use.
"We recognise the historic interest in the Salford gasholder and are working closely with stakeholders, including Salford Council and local community groups, to leave an engaging legacy that celebrates its role over the years" they added.
The famous locally listed gas holders can now be filed in the dustbin of heritage history along with the Salford Quays cranes, the Black Horse pub, Ye Olde Nelson pub and many other former landmarks in a city that refuses to recognise its past...
Peggy Seeger is appearing tonight at Band On The Wall
* For a full background see previous Salford Star articles...
Salford Dirty Old Town Gasworks To Be Demolished As Peggy Seeger Slates 'Land Grabbers' – click here
Dirty Old Town Performed Near Salford Gasworks In Demolition Protest – click here
Demolition Team Moves In On Salford Gasworks – click here
National Grid Will Not Re-Think Demolition of Gasworks – click here