How Reading gas holder should become ‘England’s biggest work of art’

How Reading gas holder should become 'England's biggest work of art'

Reading Civic Society chairman Richard Bennett has come up with a radical idea based on a project in Scotland

Reading Gas holder at sunset
Reading Civic Society wants to create a work of art out of the disused gas holder (Image: Boyer Planning)

An iconic structure in Reading earmarked to be demolished could be turned into “England’s biggest work of art” before it goes.

Reading Civic Society has taken inspiration from a project in Scotland where the long dormant Granton gas holder in Edinburgh is set to be the centrepiece of a £150,000 art project.

Council bosses and local artists in the Scottish city are all on board with the project, and Civic Society chairman Richard Bennett is suggesting something similar could be done in Reading.

There is, however, one very big difference.

The site in Edinburgh is dormant, and has been for 20 years.

The gas holder in East Reading, is part of an area of land set to be redeveloped with a nine-storey block containing 130 flats.

However, Mr Bennett says as it’s not known when developer Deansgate plans to remove the structure, maybe a short term project could be carried out.

He said: “The redevelopment proposals for the redundant gas holder site has been at least two years in gestation and were approved in late 2019. 

“We do not know how long it will be before the site is redeveloped so the gas holder could be with us for another two years.

“It is situated by the Great Western [train] Line and East Reading and if it was possible to “borrow” this idea from Edinburgh it certainly would wow those commuting and those who live in Reading.  

“I understand the project in Scotland is £150,000 for a sound and light show.

“The proximity of Reading’s gas holder to housing might mean the sound would not work but the lighting would. 

“The project is thought to be Scotland’s biggest work of art, could we not do the same in Reading and make this England’s biggest work of art?”

He said he was well aware “these ideas are not free” and that cash would have to be found.

He urged other developers with permission in the town to help out.

“Reading has to be about more than the rash of development proposals”

He said: “Reading has to be about more than the rash of development proposals which are on the stocks.

“Would one of the developers behind the some 28 redevelopment schemes, mainly for the centre of Reading, which have consent or in the process of gaining consent, be willing to support such an idea?”

Mr Bennett also pointed out that students from Edinburgh College will be working on the Scottish scheme.

Designs for the development proposed for the site of Reading's Gas Holder
Designs for the development proposed for the site of Reading’s Gas Holder (Image: Danescroft)

He said: “I recall that two to three years ago students from Reading College set up a successful light show in Reading, so it has been done.

“Lighting events have been shown to work and draw in visitors.”

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