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Gas Council Engineering Research Station

Tyne and Wear

Power, Architecture

The Stephenson Industrial Estate was integral to the bold 1960s vision of Killingworth Township, and built on the site of Killingworth Colliery.

Named in honour of George Stephenson (who’d developed the first reliable steam locomotives working there), Killingworth’s second phase as a centre of cutting-edge energy provision began with the 1965 discovery of North Sea Gas.

Architects Ryder and Yates, based in Killingworth, designed a plethora of important buildings for the Gas Industry. These included the Northern Gas Board headquarters Norgas House (1965); the Gas Council Engineering Research Station ERS (1967); Stephenson House (1969), Northern Gas Training College (1971); and the Norgas Computer Building (1974).

Ryder and Yates deployed elegant Corbusier-style aesthetics (Peter Yates knew Corbusier personally), innovative flexible interiors, stylised sculptural elements, (for example, canteen-ventilation-shafts styled as the Horns of Minos) and grandiose entrances.

Only ERS is listed (grade II*) and a number of this iconic set of interrelated buildings are at risk or demolished.

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