Allen Scott Associates and Kaner Ollette
- Original design
- Allen Scott Associates and Kaner Ollette, 1833
In the map of the reservoirs from 1848, the extent of the Gas House is clearly larger than at present with an additional building nearby on the south bank of East Reservoir. In this 1848 map no name was given to either building. In 1866, plans of the buildings on the south bank of East Reservoir were drawn, presumably a site plan of what already exists on the site given the similarities between this plan and the 1848 map.
The plans are titled 'NRC Directors’ Dining Hall at Stoke Newington' and show that the unidentified building (no longer in existence) nearby to the present day Gas House was a Dining Hall. The site of the present day Gas House was, in 1866, a Coal Shed with an adjacent Boiler House.
On the 30th May 1867, the NRC met for their weekly meeting. In this meeting the need for work on the ‘Lordship Road Station’ (i.e. the Gas House) was recognised and an estimate with drawings delivered. Alterations and reconstruction of the coal store and adjoining building occasionally used as a Kitchen were estimated to cost £300 and the work ordered to be carried out.
In the following week’s meeting on 6th June 1867, three quotes for the work were presented and the tender from Dove Brothers accepted for erecting a kitchen and coal stores at Lordship Road Engine Station for £225, the lowest bid.
The various maps and plans really need to be compared and/or overlaid to understand the development of the building overtime. There is some confusion over the development of the kitchen, for instance. In the 1866 plan there is no mention of a kitchen and yet in the minutes of the meeting in 1867 it is said that a building is occasionally used as a kitchen and yet the designs for the work to be carried out are title proposed “new” coal store and kitchen.
Additionally, when did the large stone panel on the north face that we see today appear? It is interesting that a lot of attention appears to have been paid to this side of the building, with the past boiler house having a very ornate design in the 1867 plans.
It was read that the NRC were concerned about the supply of water on the New River route at times and therefore ordered the construction of wells to increase supply. In the 1890s Edina map the first evidence of a number of wells around the Gas House is evident.
One possible theory is that the building powered the drawing of water from the wells (or powered equipment for another purpose). The labelling of the building as 'Engine House' on four documents supports this theory (1870s map from Edina, 1873-1876 map, 1885 pipe connections plans, 1896-1897 map and 1897 map).
Plans from 1885 (source: Michael Kaner) show pipe connections, possibly running between: wells, the reservoirs, and through the Gas House. These 1885 plans also show a 'New Engine House' whilst the Boiler House and Kitchen still exist.
On 6th July 1837, the NRC Board ended the weekly meeting by going to view their Reservoirs and Works at Stoke Newington. It would be interesting to know whether the Dining Hall was in existence at this time and whether they used the building that day and on other similar occasions.
The boiler or engine of the Gas House was presumably powered by the coal in the store, just as the engines at the West Reservoir works were powered by large coal stores at the time. In the minute notes of the NRC, there was a reference to problems with the inferior quality of coal at the West Reservoir works.
It would be interesting to know whether these problems affected the Gas House. In the historical records seen so far, there is no reference to the name 'Gas House'. It is presumed that this name refers to the building’s use for treating the water of the reservoirs with chlorine gas. However, perhaps this didn’t begin until the 20th Century. Later NRC (or MW or Thames Water) minutes could tell us more about this.
What is clear is that the building we are now left with is the former kitchen (with attached WC) and a coal store. By the 1890s map from Edina, the Dining Hall has disappeared but the other buildings on site still exist. However, by the 1910s the additional buildings have gone and we are left with the building apparently as we see it today.
In the 1950s Edina map, what is apparently a new building appears on or near the site of the old Dining Hall and yet this no longer exists.
The conversion of the listed former kitchen and coal store to a cafe and training/education space was part of the landscape masterplan for the whole reservoir site to further develop the urban wetland habitat.
Substantial structural work was carried out to stabilise the superstructure and create a rooftop terrace for viewing birdlife and long vistas across reservoirs. As a result of the works the building has been removed from the Heritage at Risk Register.