ENGINEERS have unearthed time capsules containing 85-year-old copies of the Telegraph & Argus at the former Birkshall Gasworks site.

The discovery was made during the removal of one of Bradford’s oldest gas holders at the Peace Street plant.

Northern Gas Networks is currently taking down the holders and the demolition teams have found three time capsules which had been placed inside the structure back in 1937. Each one contains a copy of the T&A and documents listing the date of the construction and engineering, overseen by the Bradford Gas Corporation and Chief Engineer George Currier.

A huge engineering project carried out in the 1930s, the gasworks manufactured ‘town gas’ to meet Bradford’s heating needs, which was then stored inside the three gas holders. These telescopic constructions. built by Clayton & Sons, were capable of storing 18,000 tonnes of water, which held the gas inside before it was slowly released daily at peak times in line with local energy demand.

Because of advances in technology and the enhanced capability of the modern-day gas network, the three holders have not been used for decades and the decision was taken to remove them.

Work to safely dismantle the structures is being carried out by a specialist team and is expected to finish in April.

Now Northern Gas Networks (NGN) is keen to trace the family of George Currier, and return one of the capsules to them.

“It’s a fascinating collection of items and all are perfectly preserved inside glass jars which were placed inside the holders back in 1937,” said Mark Johnson, Senior Projects Manager at Northern Gas Networks.

“We’ve done some internet research on GE Currier, who was clearly a very respected member of the Yorkshire engineering community.

“He died in 1969 aged 74. It feels right that we are able to make contact with his family and return the capsule to them.

“The holder will be removed in the next few weeks, so if Mr Currier’s family wanted to visit the site we’d love to show them.”

The T&A archives contain cuttings about Mr Currier, including a ‘Local Government Who’s Who’ profile which reveals his hobbies as ‘motoring. golf and music’ and lists various gas industry committees that he was a member of.

While the old gas holders are part of Britain’s engineering history, NGN is now delivering several projects focused on readying the gas network to transport clean energy in the future.

NGN’s site is home to the UK’s first hydrogen demonstrator homes where appliances run on 100per cent hydrogen, heating radiators and water the same way as a gas-heated home, but without emitting any carbon dioxide.

“The gas network has a key role to play in carrying cleaner, green forms of energy to customers in years to come which won’t impact the environment,” says Mark. “Hydrogen is one of the options we believe will support the UK’s move to a low carbon network, as when it’s burned it only produces heat and water as by-products.

“Our network can carry it in much the same way it carries natural gas, and the research we’re carrying out will ensure it can do this as safely and reliably as it does today.

“We’re hoping to place one of the three Bradford’s time capsules at the Hydrogen Home, so that we can connect the past and the future.”

Last year, when the T&A reported that Birkshall was one of two landmark gasworks in Bradford to be pulled down pull down, as part of a national programme removing the huge domed structures which are no longer used, reader Frank Healy got in touch with childhood memories of trips to a gas plant more than 70 years ago.

Frank wrote: “My grandmother was the licensee of the Great Northern Hotel at Laisterdyke and we lived on Cork Street.

“As a child I thought the draymen delivering the beer were fascinating, especially the big barrels they dropped down into the cellar.

“One of the customers made me a sack cart, scaled down to just my size. I had hours of fun wheeling empty beer crates around the yard.

“We lived not far from the gas coking plant at Planetrees Road and one day the lad who lived opposite, Ken Howson, and Eric Greaves from next door told me to bring my cart as we were off to the coke plant.

“Coal was not so easy to get; expensive, and as it was in 1946/47, probably rationed, but when they had been making gas you could go down and buy as much coke as you wanted. It was also cheaper and burned hotter. Ken and Eric together with some others, had got together enough money to buy some coke and they needed my cart to move it. They then went round the streets selling it and soon we were doing regular trips.

“Eventually my mother started looking for my sister and I for our tea. She eventually found us, after a long time looking, and we were black as the ace of spades from the dust. We got our backsides smacked and the lads got a rollicking for getting us into such a state.

The next time there was a load of coke available they borrowed my cart but my mother would not let me and my sister go with them. Spoilsport!”

* If anyone knows the family of George Currier or would like to get in contact with NGN about the Birkshall site gas holders, email