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LMS Route: Nuneaton to Coventry

Coventry Gasworks: misc_covgas3051

The remains of what was part of the coke plant within Coventry Gas works as seen during the winter of 1971

The remains of what was part of the coke plant within Coventry Gas works as seen during the winter of 1971. Foleshill Gas Works occupied a 40 acre site on the western side of Coventry Canal between New Inn Bridge and Judd's Lane Bridge. The production site was to the south-east of the Coventry to Nuneaton line and the gasholders were to the north-west. From 1820 Coventry's gas supply had been delivered from a site at Gas Street, near the city centre, firstly by a private company, then from 1884 as a Coventry Corporation undertaking. By the end of the 19th century it was struggling to meet increased demand from industry and in 1898 the Corporation purchased land at Foleshill on which the new coal gas works were constructed and opened in 1909. The Corporation later purchased the Undertakings of the Kenilworth (1927) and Bedworth (1930) Gas Companies and gas was supplied to those areas from the Foleshill Works. By 1937 it was described as 'equipped with the most modern plant for the manufacture of gas and by-products resulting from the Carbonization of coal' and at that time about 40% of the total output was taken by industry (Coventry Official Handbook 1937). Gas production was nationalised by the Gas Act of 1948 and the Coventry area came under the control of West Midlands Gas Board. By 1972 coal gas production at the site had ceased and the Coventry Canal Society's booklet of that year, "Coventry's Waterway", described the gas works as "a shadow of its former self". The gas holders remained and took gas supplied from Tipton. A 1984 version of the same booklet has a description of the site when in production as having "boxed in conveyor belts, cooling towers, tanks and gas holders" as well as its own railway system on an oval loop, worked by 3 saddle tank engines. Coal was delivered and by-products such as tar, coke and clinker were removed by canal. Later, the gasometers were removed, with the last one being demolished in 2002 and, after ground decontamination, the site was redeveloped into the Arena retail park and Ricoh stadium.

C Allbright