By the Gasometers

Andrew O’Hagan

In the days before Eurostar came to the area behind King’s Cross, before St Martin’s, the Guardian, Camden Council’s offices and (soon) Google UK, there existed a few cobbled streets and a couple of old railwaymen’s tenements. Battle Bridge Road, where the gasometers stood, was within a Victorian triangle formed by the two great railway stations of King’s Cross and St Pancras and the Regent’s Canal. Despite being listed, the gasometers disappeared in 1998. In their heyday they were much filmed and photographed – you can spot them in The Ladykillers (1955) and Mike Leigh’s High Hopes (1988) – and they stood for Northern England in any number of television dramas. Colin O’Brien’s photograph, from 1974, captures their bleak majesty and provides a memento of a very different London. It appears in a new book of his work, London Life (Spitalfields Life, 285 pp., £25, June, 978 0 9576569 5 6), that proves there were things in the world before Google, and places before Google Maps.

Gasometers on Battle Bridge Road

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