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The West Berkshire Historic Environment Record (HER) is the primary index of the physical remains of past human activity in the unitary authority of West Berkshire Council. Limited elements of the West Berkshire HER are available online via the Heritage Gateway, therefore it is not suitable for use in desk-based studies associated with development, planning and land-use changes, and does not meet the requirements of paragraph 194 of the National Planning Policy Framework (2021: 56). Please read the important guidance on the use of the West Berkshire HER data. For these purposes and all other commercial enquiries, please contact the Archaeology team and complete our online HER enquiry form.

HER Number MWB18035
Record Type Monument
Name Site of late 19th century gas works, later Sterling Cables, Newbury

Grid Reference SU 477 668
Map Sheet SU46NE
Parish Newbury, West Berkshire
Map:Show location on Streetmap


Former location of gas tanks and associated buildings shown on late 19th century mapping, along with 20th century buildings, demolished in 2017

Monument Type(s):

  • GAS WORKS (Built, Late 19th century to Mid 20th century - 1899 AD? to 1960 AD?)

Full Description

Newbury's first gasworks (MWB17631) were in Gashouse Road, close to Cheap Street <1>, but these appear to have been closed by the beginning of the 20th century as a second site was established about 400m to the east. These works on King's Road are shown on the Second Epoch Ordnance Survey <2> with a single gasometer and some associated buildings; a second gasometer was added later. By the 5th Epoch 1:2500 mapping, the site had become a trading estate, but some early industrial buildings appear to have been retained.

Thames Valley Archaeological Services conducted a building recording survey on the Sterling Industrial estate, the 20th century successor to the gas works, ahead of the demolition of all the existing buildings for redevelopment. The survey recorded the 19th century Counting House and suggested that buildings 7 (cable works) and 8 also dated to the late 19th century or early 20th century. These earlier buildings were characterised by plain red, and occasional polychrome, brickwork. There was a consistent level of ornamentation throughout these buildings, in the form of string courses and arches, making them typical examples of light industrial buildings of their period <4>.

A selection of photographs and stories about the gasworks were published in an article by Newbury Weekly News in May 2017, shortly before the buildings were demolished <5>. The works were constructed in 1880-81, after the borough of Newbury Corporation purchased the Newbury Gas undertaking. A new vertical retort plant was inaugurated in 1925, and a larger retort house built in 1947. A gas holder was erected on land between Hambridge Road and the racecourse. The country's Gas Industry was nationalised in 1949, and the Southern Gas Board took over. In 1959 Newbury was joined to a new grid system for its gas supply, and the Kings Road gas works closed <5>.

Various local businesses occupied the buildings and the site became known locally as the Sterling Cables industrial estate; this mid 20th century company used part of the former gasworks for a vertical extrusion plant <6>.

West Berkshire Museum has a photograph showing the site in 1994 <7>.

Sources and further reading

<01>Landmark. 1880-81. Digital OS Mapping Epoch 1, 1:500 - Newbury Town Plan. Digital. 1:500. [Map / SWB146990]
<02>Landmark. 1899-1900. Digital Ordnance Survey Mapping Epoch 2, 1:2500 (25 inch). Digital. 1:2500. [Map / SWB14455]
<03>Ordnance Survey. 1962-1981. Ordnance Survey Epoch 5, 1:2500. 1:2500. [Map / SWB14665]
<04>Thames Valley Archaeological Services. 2016. Sterling Industrial Estate, Kings Road, Newbury - Building Recording Report. 2017 WBC Network. https://doi.org/10.5284/1084203. [Unpublished document / SWB149283]
https://doi.org/10.5284/1084203 (Accessed 17/03/2022)
<05>Newbury Weekly News. 11/05/2017. Sterling Cables site used to be Newbury Gasworks. online. http://www.newburytoday.co.uk/news/nostalgia/21367/sterling-cables-site-used-to-be-newbury-gasworks.html. [Article in serial / SWB149288]
http://www.newburytoday.co.uk/news/nostalgia/21367/sterling-cables-site-used-to-be-newbury-gasworks.html ()
<06>Tweedie, A (founder). 2007-. Grace's Guide to British Industrial History. https://www.gracesguide.co.uk. Sterling_Cable_Co. [Website / SWB149365]
https://www.gracesguide.co.uk (Accessed 05/12/2023)
<07>Museum Curator. Newbury Museum Accession Records (West Berkshire Museum since 1998). 2022 WBC Network. NEBYM:2015.6.726. [Unpublished document / SWB14452]

Related Monuments

MWB17631Site of early gas works, Newbury (Monument)
MWB21972Site of Sterling Cable works, Aldermaston Wharf (Monument)

Associated Excavations and Fieldwork

EWB1127Land at Sterling Estate, Kings Road, Newbury, Berkshire - Archaeological Desk-Based Assessment
EWB1577Sterling Industrial Estate, Kings Road, Newbury - Building Recording (Ref: SIE 16/41)