Gasometer Fire Westpoint 1934

Sun, 05/01/2022 - 15:26

On May 14 1934, the sudden collapse of a badly rusted steel gasometer caused a massive leak of coal gas into the air which then ignited. The heat from  huge conflagration cause horrendous burns to those in the immediate vicinity and also set a residential building opposite to the site on fire, also burning many people inside. All told, some 42 people died from their burns and other injuries and many more were seriously burned and scarred for life. The press ( an even government records) misreported this as a gas holder “explosion” but this was not actual case.

Professor C. A. MIDDLETON SMITH, M.Sc., M.I.Mech.E. (Taikoo Professor of Engineering in the University of Hongkong) writing in July , 1937 The Far Eastern Review in an article entitled “The Maintenance of Steel Structures in the Far East – Corrosion and Typhoons” explained :

“A Terrible Fire”

“There was a terrible conflagration of about 300,000 cubic feet of coal gas at West Point, Hong Kong Island. The rumours of an explosion inside the holder can be ignored …there was no explosion …300,000 cubic feet of gas simply burnt as a huge jet in the atmosphere which burnt itself out in seconds .” Professor Middleton went on to explain in his article that better corrosion inspection and prevention measures were required in the humid atmosphere of the Far East.  .

Date picture taken
15 May 1934


According to Google Streetview, there appears to be a stone wall between Clarence Terrace and the site where the old gas holder once stood. Viewed from the street, it is quite low, but the stones seem old and there is a 'stepped' part of the wall at one end that almost matches the the wall in the old photo above.

Clarence Terrace stone wall
Clarence Terrace stone wall, by LizB