ONE of the most instantly recognisable landmarks on the St Helens skyline is set to be demolished in the New Year.
The 85-metre high Jackson Street gas holder has been a fixture on the town centre skyline for nearly 40 years.
But, following a fire during preparatory works at the site in April, National Grid bosses have now decided the redundant tower must be pulled down “for safety reasons”.
Demolition work had been due to start at the site this summer, but resident Peregrine Falcons were found to still be nesting at the site - despite netting being put up to encourage them to move on.
After liaising with the RSPB and police wildlife officers, a new nesting platform has now been provided for the birds of prey less than a mile away.
Specialist demolition contractors began preparatory works at the Jackson Street site last month, with the demolition due to kick off in January.
And the steel structure of the gas holder will be carefully cut down to size using cranes over a five-month period - with work expected to be completed by the end of May 2012.
The current Jackson Street gas holder, which can hold 170,000 cubic metres of gas, was built in 1972 and was in service for more than 35 years.
It replaced an earlier spiral-guided gas holder, built in 1946, which, at the time, was the largest of its kind in the UK.
But new technology means that a tower is no longer required at the site because gas can now be stored more efficiently in pressurised pipes.
Keith Johnston, National Grid’s commercial property manager, said: “National Grid has a nationwide programme of improvement works to sites with disused or redundant gas structures such as gas holders. In doing so, we aim to bring back into use as much of this land as possible.
“The age and condition of the Jackson Street gas holder, alongside the fact that it is no longer required to store gas, means that the most appropriate course of action is to bring it down.
“The demolition work will be undertaken by a specialist contractor to ensure that it is carried out efficiently and safely and I’d like to ask our neighbours in the vicinity for their co-operation and understanding while this is taking place.”