Thursday, 4 March 2010

Southern Gas Social Club

There's an abandoned building by the canal with the windows boarded up and the gate chained. Over one doorway behind the gate is the sign: "Southern Gas Social Club." It's on Gas Works Road, so we presume it was a pub for employees of the gas company once upon a time? I can't find anything about it online, but it looks so interesting (with that mystery that all old, boarded up buildings seem to exude). It also looks like it could be converted into some great waterside flats. Or even a cool pub -- I'd hang out at a place called the Southern Gas Social Club.

If anyone knows the history of this building, please share!

And a view of the back from across the canal:


  1. I don't know what the building is, Shelley, though I wonder if it has something to do with the gas towers further along the canal? Have you had a look at it from across the canal on the towpath near Toys R's a wonderful wreck of missing windows and pigeon nests.

    I followed you from the Writing Playground blog after you left a comment on my guest blog there about Highgate Cemetery, only to find that you're another American living in Reading too! How very interesting!


  2. I added another pic taken last year from across the canal. The broken windows do add to the craggy romance of the place, and also make me think what a shame that people felt the need to break them out! The building is for sale, so I'm curious to see what becomes of it.

    It's always interesting to find another Yank in Reading, though I don't run into many. I knew you were in Berkshire (not sure if I read that on your blog or maybe a bio or something?) but didn't realize you were in my backyard (or garden as the natives say, lol).

  3. As a resident of Reading, I have noticed this building too and wondered about its history. I think it dates from the time when Reading Gas Works was on this site (at that time, the gas was generated from coal). The green metal bridge across the canal nearby is also from the same era. There are some interesting decorated metal plaques on the bridge, showing Reading Gas Company (1880). The location is part of an area of the town which included the Huntley and Palmers Biscuit Factory. The building is interesting in that it shows the remains of the industrial heritage of Reading, now largely disappearing.

  4. I like the Huntley and Palmers building as well, and at least it's being preserved in some way as several flats. There has been one change to the Gas Works building of late -- someone has spray-painted the front with a slogan, something like "will to the people." I hope someone refurbishes it; it could be so much more than a decrepit old site for vandals to adorn.

  5. I have spent neumerous great times in this building back in the 60's-70's as i worked for southern gas based in gasworks lane back then and used to spend dinner hours ect in there as a member of the club, a few names from back then i can remember if anyone is still around,Dave Macormac,Harry Charndler,and wife Margret, Simon Millner, Warwich Emery, Jack Barnes, if any of the above names relate to anyone please feel free to contact me in hope of a reunion From Hedley West (exibition & Display Dept) Contacts Via this page please

  6. Thanks for writing, Hedley! The idea of a company offering a social club to employees is a rather different and interesting one to me. Hopefully you'll find some of your old friends!

  7. It's interesting to read Hedley's account of when the Southern Gas Social Club was active. I also hope he meets up with some friends from that time. However, I am still curious as to the original function of the building. I doubt it started out as a Social Club, since what we now see is a tiny fraction of a huge industrial complex which comprised Huntley & Palmers and the Gasworks, at one time employing a total of around 5000 people! The building may have housed the administrative offices of the Gas Company, but this is pure speculation. The fact that it has domestic type chimneys suggests office accommodation rather than an industrial function.

  8. Just last week I walked past this building and decided to take a few photos, and see what I could find out. Its a fascinating building, not only the unknown history, but all of the possiblities if it could be renovated.
    Does anyone know of its ownership or state of repair? It would be terrible if it was beyond salvage after years of neglect.


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