The Wivenhoe Gas Works in St. Johns Road, or Gas Road as the locals called it. That’s probably Gassy Edwards posing for the photo.
Additional information from Nick Butler Interviews in the 1980s with Betty Govan, Ivy Knappet and Mr Barnes:
Wivenhoe had 3 gasometers; the front, smaller one was used to run the gas works itself. The gas works employed the boss (Mr Edwards), one stoker and one other, and then men when needed.
Coal was stored on the marsh and then transported by carters like Walter Jolliffe to the gas works.
The fires had to be kept going day and night. The gas was made by baking the coal in ovens called retorts. The dirty yellow gas that was given off was then purified. The coke and tar left over from this process was sold. Kent Blaxill collected the tar and also the fishermen would use it to line the bottom of their boats.
There were some problems when high tides flooded the gas works.
Note added by Peter Hill: The gas works was sold in the early 1960s, the proceeds of which were used by Wivenhoe Urban District Council in 1963 to build the public hall in Wivenhoe’s High Street. This building was named the William Loveless Hall later in the 1980s after the former Chairman of the WUDC Cllr William Loveless. This action was taken when residents of the close off Broome Grove objected to their road being called Loveless Close and Wivenhoe Town Council, successor to the WUDC, agreed to re-name their road Cap Pilar Close instead and to mark the long service to the town by Cllr William Loveless by re-naming the public hall the William Loveless Hall.