Richard Chivers’ quest to photograph Britain’s gasholders before they were demolished produced a selection of filigree drums removed from their context
As a child, Richard Chivers was fascinated with gasholders. His father had been a British Gas works inspector, a career spent crossing the country to report on their condition. Forgotten in intervening years, Richard’s fascination was rekindled in 2015, on reading that National Grid planned to demolish a large number of them and sell the land they stood on.
Great iron lungs that had, for more than a century, slowly respirated for the UK’s industry and homes, were to be turned off for good. At this point, Chivers chose to follow in his father’s footsteps and carry out a survey of his own.
He photographed hundreds and, as he did, found himself drawn more to the gasholders themselves than to their place in the cityscape. He channelled this first by draining them of colour to black and white, then by placing them together, allowing the structures, denuded of context, to speak plainly, one to the other: Leeds to Greenwich, Hornsey to Great Yarmouth, Aston to East Ham.
A compare and contrast for gasholders – like Uswitch for your gas bills.