A FEATURE on the town’s skyline for more than 40 years has disappeared - 12 months after work got underway to dismantle it.

The gas holder on Jackson Street could be seen from miles around and when it was built in 1972, it was the largest of its kind in the UK.

Standing 85m tall, it had the capacity to store 3m cubic feet of gas.

Demolishing it presented some real engineering challenges to contractors Coleman and Coleman Ltd.

Because where the gas holder stood was surrounded by businesses and due to internal damage caused by a fire last year, they had to develop some ingenious techniques to take it down one piece at a time.

The roof was cut free and its weight was supported by cranes mounted on the upright pillars around the holder’s circumference.

This was used as a working platform by engineers and was slowly lowered as they sliced out each section.

Keith Johnston, commercial property manager at National Grid, said: "It is actually quite a sad day for us.

“The gas holder served the town of St Helens for decades, helping us make sure that local people had a safe and reliable supply of gas even though the coldest winters. The skyline doesn't look quite the same now that it has gone."

Paul Quance, project manager for Coleman and Company Limited, added: "It has been an interesting project for us to work on and one which has really tested our powers of invention.

“We'll be waving off the final shipment of steel from the site with mixed feelings - relief to have completed the job as it has produced lots of unique challenges, but sadness too because the gas holder has played such an important part in people's lives for so long."

New techniques for storing gas have meant that National Grid no longer needs to use gas holders and the company is close to completing a programme to demolish the ones still remaining in the North West.