Gassing About Biggar
13 July 2007
Before the days of North Sea gas, Scotland relied on a network of small gas works throughout the country to bring light to millions of homes. An important part of our industrial and social heritage, these vital facilities used to be familiar sights in Scottish towns. Nowadays they have all but disappeared.
Biggar Gas Works provides a rare and fascinating insight into the once essential process of producing gas from coal. As Scotland’s only surviving gas works, it enables visitors to see the actual plant and machinery and view steam-driven equipment in action. The site, which dates back to 1839, is remarkably complete, with the retorts, condenser, purifier, exhauster house, gas meter, holders and gasman’s cottage all still in place. The cottage has been made into a visitor centre displaying a variety of interesting artefacts.
Throughout this summer, special ‘Steam Days’ at the gas works are giving visitors an opportunity to experience how the facility operated before being closed down in 1973 following the arrival of natural gas in Biggar. The impressive boiler which powered the gas works will be up and running for the events, and driving parts of steam-driven machines associated with gas production and distribution. And a video presentation will also depict how gas was produced.
The next Steam Day will be on Monday 16 July 2007 from 12.30pm until 4.30pm. Steam Days planned over the next two months are on:
·Saturday 11 August
·Sunday 12 August
·Monday 17 September
·Sunday 23 September
·Monday 24 September
Notes for editors
·Biggar Gas Works, which is typical of a small town coal gas works, is run in conjunction with Historic Scotland, National Museums of Scotland and the Biggar Museum Trust.
·It is situated in Biggar, in Gas Works Road, off the A702 Edinburgh to Abington Road. Tel. 01899 221050. Open daily 2.00pm – 5.00pm, June to September, with last admission 4.30pm.
·Historic Scotland has 345 outstanding historic properties and sites in its care. These include some of the leading tourism attractions in the country, including Edinburgh, Stirling, and Urquhart Castles, Fort George, Linlithgow Palace, the Border Abbeys, and Skara Brae.
·Historic Scotland’s mission is to safeguard Scotland’s historic environment and to promote its understanding and enjoyment.