Address ul. Zamkowa 7, 62-067 Rakoniewice
Although the gasworks no longer operates in this small town in the Greater Poland region, its residents still remember the gas industry's past.
The history of the gas industry in Rakoniewice dates back to the beginning of the 20th century. In 1904, work began on the construction of the municipal gasworks, which was put into operation in 1908. Gas was used mainly for street lighting, but also in domestic kitchens. In the mid-1950s, gas lamps were still a distinctive part of Rakoniewice’s urban landscape. Until the 1960s, huge cylindrical tanks containing the coal gas produced at the site were still standing next to the gasworks building.
In 1956, Rakoniewice was connected to the electrical grid and everything changed. From 1957, gas lamps disappeared from the streets. At the beginning of 1987, coal gas was finally replaced by natural gas.
On December 4, 2008, Rakoniewice gasworks celebrated its 100th anniversary. The celebrations began with a mass for the employees and former employees of Rakoniewice Gasworks. After the mass, the participants, guests and residents of Rakoniewice marched down Zamkowa Street to the square opposite the gasworks.
There the venue was ceremoniously named the Gasman’s Square and a gas lantern was lit. A symbolic monument remained after the ceremony: the Gasman’s Square with a bench and a gas lantern opposite the entrance to the former gasworks.
Address ul. Ścinawska 1, 59-220 Legnica
Some gas plants are getting a new lease of life and being turned into science, culture or entertainment venues. The case of the gas plant in Legnica is still different; it is the spirit of sport that reigns there.
The gas plant in Legnica began its operation in 1857, as one of the first such facilities in Lower Silesia. It was erected in the place of an old mediaeval brick factory. In the beginning, it powered 250 street lamps, but over time, the demand for municipal gas increased; as a result, there appeared a need to expand the plant.
The first years of the 20th century saw the construction of subsequent gas holders, as well as a warehouse, workshops and a residential building. Between 1916 and 1917, a new firing building as well as a boiler room were erected, as well as an adjacent, 33-metre high ammonia tower and an administration and staff building. It is these buildings that survived to this day, though municipal gas has not been produced there for many years.
Gas plants began to lose its primary function after World War II, along with the widespread use of electricity and natural gas. In large cities, gas plants began to be shut down in 1960s and 1970s, while smaller facilities survived even until the end of the 20th century.
Their further fate was diverse: the old gas plant in Paczków was turned into the Gas Industry Museum. Many facilities became office buildings, some of them have taken on yet different functions. The gas plant in Legnica became home to fans of climbing; the old walls house a climbing wall.
Address ul. Sikorskiego 73, 66-400 Gorzów Wielkopolski
The old gas holder is located on the premises of the Gas Plant in Gorzów Wielkopolski. Though incomplete, it is a reminder of how the city's illuminating gas production system used to function.
The holder, which is part of the municipal gas distribution network in Gorzów Wielkopolski, was erected in 1909. The roof of the gas holder, known as the bell, has not survived to this day, but the external walls visible today make it easy to imagine how the building looked in the mid-19th century.
The gas holder was designed for gas storage, so it helped maintain correct gas pressure in the municipal network. The operating principle of such gas holders was as follows: the water tank was filled with water and then covered with an upside-down bell. First, gas was released into the gas holder through a gas inlet located at the base of the construction. This made the bell float and when the gas entered the gas network, the bell plunged back into water.
Address ul. Ks. Ignacego Skorupki 1, 90-458 Łódź
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is the oldest such memory site in Poland. The vigil light was sponsored by the employees of the Łódź Municipal Gas Plant.
The memory site was revealed in 1925. It was designed by professor Stanisław Ostrowski, who is also the creator of the much more recognised Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Warsaw. The monument was built to commemorate soldiers fallen on various battlefields. Initially, it featured an inscription which said “To the Unknown Soldier - the City of Łódź - 1925”.
The monument was destroyed by the Nazis in 1939. It was rebuilt in 1946 and corresponds to the original design. Changes included the monument’s position relative to Piotrowska street and the inscription (currently: “Tomb of the Unknown Soldier”).
The vigil light was one of the integral elements of the monument. After the war, it was sponsored by the Łódź gas plant. The inscription on it says “A gift of the Municipal Gas Plant in Łódź, XI 1946”. To this day, the vigil light is maintained and kept in working order by the emergency gas services in Łódź.
Address ul. Wileńska 7, 47-400 Racibórz
This gas lamp has witnessed many important and joyous moments in the life of Racibórz residents.
Racibórz is one of the cities located within the current borders of the Polish lands, where traditional gas plants emerged as early as in the mid-19th century. The oldest such facilities were erected in Wrocław, Szczecin and Gdańsk, but the gas plant in Racibórz is just a little younger. It was built on Piaskowa street in 1857, so the same year that a similar plant was opened in Kraków.
Gas lamps began illuminating buildings in Racibórz as early as in 1858, and a little later gas lamps appeared on the city’s streets. Their network grew steadily, powered by gas from the gas plant that was expanded in 1872. Over time, the gas street lamps started to be ousted by electric lighting, but they still illuminated some of the city’s side streets even in the 1950s.
Today, gas lightning is just a memento of the golden days of municipal gas, though we can still admire working gas lamps here and there (e.g. in Warsaw and Wrocław). In Racibórz, the gas lamp at Wileńska street is such a memento. It is located outside the Registry Office, which probably few visitors to the Palace of Weddings are aware of.
Address Roundabout at the junction of Nowy Świat, Kolejowa and Żwirowa Streets, 62-065 Grodzisk Wielkopolski
How to celebrate an important town anniversary? Getting a gas lamp is the way to go!
The gas lamp in Grodzisk Wielkopolski was founded on the occasion of the 710th anniversary the city’s founding by the then Wielkopolska Spółka Gazownictwa, so one of the six distribution companies that were merged into Polska Spółka Gazownictwa in 2013.
The gas lamp was unveiled and lit on July 7, 2013 with the participation of the authorities of Wielkopolska Spółka Gazownictwa and Grodzisk Wielkopolski. The lamp is located at a square near a roundabout where Kolejowa, Żwirowa and Nowy Świat streets meet. Back in the day, the gas plant in Gorzów Wielkopolski was located at Nowy Świat street.
Address Metropolity Andrzeja Szeptyckiego 8, 14-200 Iława
From the production plant, through a depot, up to the sacral building - the Iława Gasworks are an example of variable functions that a facility can assume according to the town's needs.
The Iława Municipal Gasworks was established in 1899 at the corner of today’s Kazimierz Jagiellończyk and Metropolita Andrzej Szeptycki Streets. The production building was constructed on a rectangular plan, and the building body consisted of three parts. Initially, it consisted of a coal storage yard, a furnace hall, and a machinery building with a basement, but with the increasing demand for gas, the plant was being expanded. In 1910, the production building was enlarged, and in 1926, a new furnace hall with a brick chimney was constructed near the desulphurisation plant.
The turbulent times of WWII also affected the Iława Gasworks. The plant employed prisoners and prisoners of war, and shelters and watchtowers were constructed at its site. As a result of the actions of the retreating German army and progressing fights, the gasworks buildings were significantly damaged. Their reconstruction lasted until the middle of the 1950s.
With the popularisation of natural gas in Poland, traditional gasworks were gradually phased out. The situation of the Iława Gasworks was no different. In 1987, the gasworks building was partly converted and started to be used as a garage and a workshop, and after a ceiling and wide access gates to the building were installed, the facility was used as a bus depot by the Municipal Transport Company in Iława.
The former gasworks ceased to play that role in 1992, and one year later, the building was entered into the heritage register. According to conservation officers’ recommendations, the building was to be adapted for sacral purposes. The Orthodox Church parish became its user, and the building was transformed into the Orthodox Church of Saint John the Theologian.
Address ul. Gazowa 16, 31-060 Kraków
The underground pressure reducing and metering station is located in the premises of the former gasworks in Kraków and is accessible to visitors of the Branch of Gasworks of the Polska Spółka Gazownictwa. This is the result of many months of work to modernise the facility, with the goal of using the latest technological solutions and integrating the station into the historic surroundings.
The station is housed in a steel container and is further upgraded by an aboveground metering unit, that makes it possible to read actual pressures, temperatures, and flow at the station without having to open the station.
The underground station, as an alternative to the previous building, is a perfect design that harmonizes with its surroundings. In addition, lighting of the station interior and a transparent cover makes the facility visually beautiful and attractive to visitors. The facility performs both the function of gas reduction and measurement and also interacts with its surroundings.
The gas station constructed in this way is used to interact with students, e.g. from the nearby AGH University of Science and Technology, and provides an opportunity for the visitors of the gasworks to learn about gas reduction technology.
Address ul. Za Groblą, 60-995 Poznań
The statue of Zyga the Lamplighter stands opposite the headquarters of one of the branches of Polska Spółka Gazownictwa – the national operator of the gas distribution system in Poland. Standing in Grobla Street, on the Ignacy Łukasiewicz Square, just next to the Old Gasworks, every night Zyga symbolically lights a gas lamp.
Zyga stands for Zygmunt in the Poznań dialect and the last lamplighter working in this position for Poznań Gasworks between 1 February 1956 and 1 August 1965, was actually called Zygmunt Cypel. Born in 1910, he became employed by the gas plant on 8 August 1938 for the duration of the project of laying gas pipes along Główna Street. He remained at the gasworks until 19 October 1975, when he finished his employment holding the post of a fitter. In the 1920s, the father of Zygmunt Cypel also worked at the Gasworks.
Stories handed down the generations say that he used to whistle beautifully. It is said that he imitated the call of the nightingale so well that when he walked through the streets of the city in the winter and whistled, people peered out from the windows looking for a lost bird.
Although the sculptor Robert Sobociński did not model his creation on Zygmunt Cypel, the family of the former lamplighter recognises his features in the sculpture and visits this place with fondness.
The sculpture was unveiled on 29 May 2003. The lamp’s burner and the light-sensitive switch controlling it are both modern, while the lamp post is entirely original – it dates back to the 19th century and was transferred here from a Poznań street.
The figure of the lamplighter sculpted in bronze reminds us of the times gone by – of the history of gas lamps and of a real resident of the city who once used to work for Poznań Gasworks.
Address ul. Wałowa 41/43
The gas holder is situated on the premises of Polska Spółka Gazownictwa sp. z o.o., Gas Supply Facility at 41/43 Wałowa Street, next to the internal road in the north-western part of the plot.
The gas holder was constructed in 1904 to enable low-pressure gas storage. It is a steel free-standing tank with a water seal, with a capacity of V=30,000 m³ (the tank initially had a capacity of 10,000 m³, but it was enlarged in 1910), the footprint area – 1690 m², the usable area – 1476 m², the internal volume – 23,350 m³, and the height of 31 m.
The tank has three storeys, a brick rim, a water tank with guided rollers, reinforcement, a staircase tower, a bell with a crown, and a telescope. The brick rim with a height of 2.80 m supports the steel water tank with a raised bottom and a diameter of 46.40 m and a height of 10 m, creating an empty space inside.
The operating principle of such gas holders was as follows: the water tank was filled with water and then covered with an upside-down bell. First, the gas was released into the gas holder through a gas inlet located at the base of the tank. This made the bell float and when the gas entered the gas network, the bell immersed in water.
The bottom and the side walls of the water tank are made from metal sheet with a thickness of 8-14 mm. The metal sheets used for the casing of the water tank overlap and are riveted together. The bottom of the tank rests on truss spans laid out in a radiating arrangement externally supported on the internal wall of the water tank, and internally on a skeleton framework.
Currently, this disused gas holder serves as storage for gas equipment.
Subcategory Industrial facilities
Manufacturer/author Gebrüder Körting
Year of manufacture/creation 1913
Place of manufacture/creation Hannover, Germany
This unique gas engine was powered with the fuel produced in the gasworks.
Its operation did not generate additional costs for the gasworks (the engine generated mechanical energy by burning a mixture of town gas and the air in the cylinder). Moreover, this gas engine was straightforward to operate and repair. That is why it was used to power devices inside the facility, such as drills, grinders and gas suction pumps.
Despite its advantages recognised by gas workers, this solution never became commonplace outside the walls of the gasworks. This two-stroke engine was noisy, used a lot of fuel and produced large quantities of exhaust gases.
Subcategory Industrial facilities
Year of manufacture/creation 1902
Place of manufacture/creation Paczków, then Poland
The storage of gas is aided by the power of the elements – water and air.
The generated gas has to be suitably stored so that it can be used. The builders of gasworks were faced with a considerable problem: how to store something that cannot be seen and poses a risk of explosion?
Taking the above into account, they filled a large tank with water and covered it with a large bell. The gas inlet was installed at the base of the tank. When gas entered the tank, the bell rose up, and on releasing the gas into the gas network, the bell again submerged into the water.
This wet gas holder was such an excellent storage facility that Paczków Gasworks used it for 75 years!
Address The Oil Wells of Krosno and Jasło
The industrial revolution transformed not only how people lived but also the entire human environment. This phenomenon was perfectly reflected in the Jasło and Krosno Valley. The lower-lying section of the Central Beskidian Piedmont is where old towns of Lesser Poland are dotted among picturesque valleys: Biecz, Gorlice, Krosno and Jasło.
This is also where the Polish gas industry was born. Within the last two centuries, the landscape around Jasło was changing at a fast pace. Technological changes have even left their mark in the invisible world of scents. Although towns were focused on trade and handicraft, for many centuries this entire area was dedicated to agriculture. In the spring, the air carried the scent of apple blossom, while the summer arrived with the aroma of linden trees and fresh hay.
The extractive industry, which arrived in these lands in the 19th century together with the oil well fever, changed it all in the course of a few years. It all started innocently, with the first oil wells established by a beginner entrepreneur and then a pioneer of the Polish oil industry – Ignacy Łukasiewicz. Soon after, the landscape became overshadowed by wooden drilling derricks, with more than 300 of them in place. The air carried the stench of crude oil, grease and heavy smoke from the extraction installations which were often on fire.
The flammable substance which accompanied the extracted kerosene was very frequently the cause of these fires. This substance is not only volatile and invisible but also odourless. Natural gas aroused fear, as its presence was announced with a worrying hiss, while its contact with a flame lead to an explosion. The characteristic odour of gas, which today makes us apprehensive, is the result of the process used in modern distribution networks, which serves to increase the safety of gas users. Natural gas – the companion of crude oil – posed quite a challenge at the start. This raw material, which today is highly valuable, escaped into the atmosphere or was burnt off by means of a flare stack, making the night sky above the Beskid Mountains glow red.
Despite all these difficulties, from the start of the 20th century, crude oil entrepreneurs made attempts to use natural gas for industrial purposes. In 1916, the first gas pipeline Jaszczew – Jedlicze – Krosno was built in the Jasło and Krosno area, which supplied the refinery near Jasło. From that moment on, this previously problematic crude oil companion began to power Polish factories and heat Polish cities.
Address Roztoki – Sędziszów Małopolski – Komorów – Lubienia
Industry is energy, and even the most powerful machine will be unproductive without it. This fact was obvious to Deputy Prime Minister Eugeniusz Kwiatkowski, the initiator of the greatest industrial investment in the Second Polish Republic – the Central Industrial Region. Among its numerous production plants, the leading role was played by arms factories. The Central Industrial Region was of strategic importance; therefore, it needed to be provided with sufficient energy, and its source had to be stable and reliable. That is why the choice was made to use a modern type of fuel – natural gas.
The richest deposits of this raw material were located in the Podkarpacie region, near the town of Jasło. The gas was to be used primarily to power metallurgical furnaces, for the heat treatment of metals, for the firing of construction materials and to generate process and heating steam. In order to supply the factories of the Central Industrial Region with gas, it was necessary to carry out an ambitious and innovative investment – a high-pressure gas pipeline had to be laid. The Polish government subsidised the project with an enormous sum – at a time when a labourer’s working hour was worth one zloty, the government earmarked as much as 12 million zloty for the investment!
Construction work began in the late 1930s. Despite favourable conditions for the success of the venture, its sheer scale required the help of a huge workforce; therefore, the army became involved in the construction work. Lviv Polytechnic provided specialists for the project’s planning and execution. Polish steelworks developed special technology for the production of seamless steel pipes. In the course of the construction work, hosts of specialised welders were trained. Innovative solutions, such as new methods of joining and bending pipe sections, were continuously developed and implemented.
The first stage of the project was completed before the start of the Second World War. In as little as two and a half years, more than three hundred kilometres (including numerous branches) of the gas pipeline along the route of Roztoki – Sędziszów Małopolski – Komorów – Lubienia were constructed. In 1939, gas started to flow to the first plants inside the Central Industrial Region. The war not only interrupted the investment – the plan of supplying Warsaw with gas was unsuccessful – but it also prevented the full use of the invaluable innovations and the experience acquired by the officials, engineers and labourers who worked on the project.
Address Jaszczew – Jedlicze – Krosno
One of the turning points in the history of the gas industry was the substitution of gas produced from coal with natural gas, which occurs naturally in underground deposits. This fuel is cleaner, more efficient, and its production consumes less energy. Natural gas is also easier to use at home.
Polish gas deposits were discovered by accident, during the extraction of crude oil near the city of Borysław. This was where the first gas pipeline on the then Polish lands was constructed. In 1912, the gas network with a length of 12 km for the first time carried gas from the “Klaudiusz” mine to the centre of Borysław, where it powered the refinery and the gasoline factory. The construction of the pipeline was overseen by renowned entrepreneurs active in the crude oil industry – Marian Wieleżyński and Władysław Szaynok. In 1916, gas extracted near the town of Jasło was used in a similar way. It was taken from Jasło to a refinery in Jedlicze and Krosno.
Today, natural gas is of crucial importance to the economy and national security. Governmental corporations are busy investing in its extraction and transport. The scale of the projects undertaken in Poland’s oil well region is not impressive from today’s standpoint. At that time, these first gas pipelines had a pioneering character, and their erection required the use of innovation and entrepreneurship, giving rise to the modern Polish gas industry.
After Poland regained its independence in 1918, President Ignacy Mościcki and Deputy Prime Minister Kwiatkowski faced a difficult challenge. What is the best way to stimulate Poland’s economy? How to transform impoverished peasants into workers and townspeople? They both believed that industry was key to economic growth. Their hope gave rise to an extraordinary undertaking.
The surroundings of Sandomierz were traditionally agricultural lands, but it was here, among the fields and orchards, that the largest state-run industrial investment of the Second Polish Republic – the Central Industrial Region – began.
This location was chosen based on a great many factors. The lands were situated far from Poland’s borders, which was to provide a degree of security. The area had plenty of people seeking employment – there were 200 inhabitants per one square kilometre, and most of them were peasants running small farms.
Also, gas was extracted near the town of Jasło. This type of fuel, next to electrical energy, was to power steelworks and foundries as well as heat future housing estates for the employees of the Central Industrial Region. Until 1938, as much as 300 kilometres of gas networks were built along the route of Gorlice – Jasło – Krosno – Ostrowiec.
The character of the plants within the industrial area was very evocative of Poland of the time, its politics and economy – most plants operated in the armaments sector. A plant in Stalowa Wola manufactured 100 mm howitzers, Starachowice had an arms factory, while Mielec produced aircraft engines.
Although many investments had not been completed before the outbreak of the Second World War, this undertaking succeeded in changing the region and became the nucleus of Poland’s industrialisation, the effects of which are still noticeable today. The plants included in the programme changed peasant farmers into factory labourers, while scientists and those passionate about science became technological innovators, who were able to put their inventions into practice.
After the war, these facilities were one of the most important elements of the economy of the Polish People’s Republic. Many of them have survived political changeovers and operate till this day. Today, they form a modern cluster, which continues to pursue the bold aspirations of Eugeniusz Kwiatkowski, who more than eighty years ago had the courage to imagine an industrial Poland.
Address ul. ks. Szczepana Rembowskiego 1, 95-100 Zgierz
The Congress of Vienna provided the town of Zgierz with certain benefits. Although the newly created Kingdom of Poland was under the control of Tsarist Russia, some people decided to focus on the future of their country.
Among them was the outstanding geologist Stanisław Staszic, who visited Zgierz as the director of the Department of Trade, Crafts and Industry. Thanks to his efforts, the Zgierz Agreement was signed in 1821, which outlined the privileges to be enjoyed by weavers settling in the town. This attracted over 300 craftsmen to Zgierz and contributed to its dynamic development.
Today, the former glory of the town is still noticeable in the last wooden weaver houses which once belonged to the settlers. They are located, among others, at Narutowicza and Rembowskiego Streets. In 2003, this part of the town was included in Poland’s first culture park. As a result, the traditional buildings are provided with special protection and care.
In 2010, the streets of this historical area were illuminated with gas street lamps. With their light as soft and as white as the fabric once woven here, they make a wonderful tribute to the spirit of this former weavers’ town.
Address ul. Tama Pomorzańska, 70-952 Szczecin
When in the spring of 1848 the first gas lamps illuminated Szczecin’s streets, the city was upgraded to the rank of modern European metropolises.
Already in the first few years, the newly-built gasworks supplied more than five hundred gas street lamps and one and a half thousand households. Such incredible demand for the new type of fuel meant that the gasworks had to be continuously expanded and modernised.
In the 1920s, work started on the construction of a new gas plant. Near the facility, a jetty allowed coal barges to be unloaded. The coal used for gas production was stored in a coal tower – a special structure which was used to supply coal to gasworks furnaces.
Unfortunately, the Second World War was not kind to the plant. The facility was bombed in 1944, and only the lonely coal tower was left to guard the ruins of the city. Rebuilt in 1946, the gasworks immediately resumed production. The reconstructed plant operated until 1987. This was when the coal barges on the Oder river were ultimately replaced with natural gas flowing via the municipal network. This was made possible by connecting Szczecin via a gas pipeline as early as in 1976.
Today, the coal tower is everything that is left from the gasworks. Its modernist design towers above the industrial landscape of Szczecin’s riverside wharf, reminding visitors of one of the oldest gasworks in Poland.
Address ul. Świętej Jadwigi 1, 50-266 Wrocław
The work of a lamplighter is straightforward but carries great responsibility.
Street lamp number 4 in Ostrów Tumski is the residence of Gazuś – one of Wrocław’s famous gnomes. He sees the lamplighter often, and he decided to tell the Gasworks Museum about his daily work.
Currently, it is Robert who attends to the gas lamps. Well, he’s an absolute professional! But between you and me, his hand is sometimes a little shaky when he puts his long pole against the lamp. I don’t blame him – the lampshades conceal little mantles which glow once lit, and you need to be very gentle with them! All you need to do is touch them and oops! – that’s that. And then you have to repair it all by hand.
Once I saw a spider sneaking its way into the lamp to start weaving its web. This is because that is where all the moths go at night time, the spider probably thought it would have a ball … You would not believe it! Robert the lamplighter comes in the evening, sees the spider’s web, mumbles something under his nose, and knocks the spider off, the spider making sure not to get his little feet burnt! And the moths are free to dance around the lamp post, they don’t even know that they owe their life to the lamplighter.
I sometimes see Robert followed by tourists busy taking photos. As if this was some important event – but he does this every day, what’s so special about this whole thing? And what do I have to say about it?! Is a gnome climbing a lamp post not a bigger attraction?
But to be honest, there are nearly one hundred gnomes in Wrocław, while there is only one lamplighter in Wrocław and one of the last in Poland, apparently. So, let him be photographed while I watch. I feel good up here on the bridge, drop in to see me and I’ll tell you about the mice that come out to play at night. Once, under a full moon, I even saw … But that is a completely different story.
Gazuś still sees the Wrocław lamplighter, although he no longer lights the street lamp on which the gnome sits – in January 2020, the lamps on Tumski bridge began to be powered with electricity.
Address ul. Agrykola, 05-077 Warszawa
The installation of gas lighting not only raised the living standard of the residents but also emphasized the city’s modernity.
In 1856, it was Warsaw’s turn to take on a big city’s glow. Warsaw’s residents were now able to stroll along the Royal Route in the light provided by gas street lamps.
Gradually, other streets became illuminated, and a quarter of a century later there were as many as two thousand such gas lamps. This number is not very impressive when compared to more than forty thousand gas street lamps illuminating Paris at the time, but it was sufficient to make the lives of Warsaw residents more comfortable and safe.
Today, it is possible to feel the magic of these times by taking a stroll along Agrykola Street. On the occasion of its 150th anniversary, Warsaw Gasworks renovated the historic gas street lamps in Agrykola Street, and the street is now exclusively lit by gas.
Address ul. Ludwika Zamenhofa 2, 63-410 Ostrów Wielkopolski
Although the gasworks in Ostrów Wielkopolski shared the fate of similar plants, which were decommissioned, today this particular facility is once again full of people busy at work.
One of its largest structures – a historical gas holder – has been given a new function, although its industrial character has been preserved. When in 1867 a gasworks was built in Ostrów Wielkopolski, this tower was used as a wet storage tank. The bottom of the tank was covered with water over which a bell was floating above a layer of gas.
The structure currently houses the offices of a power plant and a bank. The innovative conversion of the building preserved fragments of the original installations and materials used in the tank’s construction.
Address Rynek Główny 1/3, 31-042 Kraków
Today, gas lamps are not only a curiosity for tourists but also connect us with the city’s past. In the place where gas lighting was seen for the first time, it is still possible to admire its glow.
The first gas street lamp in Poland was lit in 1830, in Kraków. A special demonstration was organised on this occasion. However, the former capital of Poland had to wait almost thirty years before it saw the installation of proper gas street lamps in its streets – a gas plant had to be built first.
The lamps installed at that time can still be seen today inside the Cloth Hall. Their gas light, the horse-drawn carriages and the bugle call coming from the Bugle-call Tower all create the magical atmosphere of the Kraków of old.
Address Rynek, 49-100, Niemodlin
In the days gone by, gas lamps illuminated city streets while some of them also gave inspiration to the residents.
The cast iron lamp erected in Niemodlin in 1909 weighed over 700 kg and was exquisitely decorated with acanthus leaves and figurines of dragons holding the lampshades. With it, the town square was not only beautifully illuminated but also looked elegant.
The look of Niemodlin continues to be of importance to the town’s residents. Thanks to their efforts, the support of the municipal authorities, the Local Action Group “Partnership for the Niemodlin Forests” and that of the Gasworks Museum in Paczków, the famous street lamp is still lit, beautifying the town.
Although it is no longer powered by gas, every effort was made to obtain the characteristic colour of gas light. The historic lamp is fitted with specially stylised LED bulbs, whose shape and colour imitates gas filaments.
Address ul. Ku Morzu 1, 72-602 Świnoujście
The town of Świnoujście is where one of the most critical ports for the security of Poland is located. Although ships arrive in the port from many different directions, they all carry the same cargo.
The construction of the LNG terminal, i.e. a gas port, began in 2006 and was recognised by the Council of Ministers as a strategic investment.
As much as 5 billion Nm³ can be unloaded in Świnoujście within a year. The gas arrives in tankers in the form of LNG, i.e. liquefied natural gas that has been cooled to a liquid state, at about -162° Celsius. Once in the terminal, the gas is transferred into two gigantic cryogenic storage tanks, each with a capacity of 160,000 m³. Inside the tanks, the LNG is regasified for distribution via the gas network, allowing it to be delivered to our homes and industrial facilities. However, some of the LNG is shipped further – in gas tankers, using railways and roads, heading for other distribution points.
This terminal is so vital because it allows Poland, which has limited natural gas resources, to obtain this type of fuel from various sources, and not only via pipelines. This is the reason why the gas port continues to be expanded – currently, a third LNG process storage tank is being constructed to increase the storage capacity of the gas port, as well as an additional jetty for the unloading of LNG carriers, and a siding for rail tankers.
Address ul. Wincentego Pola, 38-440 Iwonicz-Zdrój
The oldest health resort in Poland uncovers mysterious elements which are usually hidden deep inside the Earth’s crust.
Iwonicz Zdrój has always attracted visitors with beautiful landscapes and its healing mineral waters. One of the natural springs, heavily silted and hidden in a forest, also drew the attention of artists and scientists. They visited the spring to look for inspiration and to seek answers to the mysteries of life.
What made the Bełkotka Spring so unique? Visitors could spot curious bubbles making a characteristic bubbling noise, which gave the spring its name – “Bełkotka” (bubbler in English). However, the real attraction was the fact that if lit, the spring burned with a beautiful blue flame.
Wincenty Pol – a poet and a geographer – dedicated his poem to this phenomenon. The stone plaque found next to the spring carries the following words: „In the shadow of these woods, something murmuring lightly, today, like years ago, Bełkotka, you greet us politely! For how inspiration unfolds in our souls! A pure flame from your currents flows (…)”.
However, the mystery of this enigmatic phenomenon was solved by a chemistry professor, not by the geographer. In 1877, Bronisław Radziszewski, a lecturer at the University of Lviv, established that the water in the Bełkotka spring is mixed with gaseous hydrocarbons.
The shallow spring started to decrease in size with time, so you need to be really lucky to hear this characteristic bubbling nowadays. Although the blue flame of Bełkotka is not as mysterious as it once was, a visit to the spring is a rewarding idea, as this place can take you back to the prehistory of our planet.
Address ul. Koksowa 5, 70-031 Szczecin
Despite resembling a set decoration for a science-fiction film, this coal tower is a prime example of industrial architecture from the early 20th century.
Its unusual shape was designed by an architect who also designed churches, villas and the Masonic lodge building in Szczecin. In his work, Adolf Thesmacher implemented the principles of the new and audacious movement in architecture – modernism.
When Szczecin gasworks was being expanded in the 1920s, he took the opportunity to try out some bold forms and dynamic shapes of buildings. The coal tower designed by Thesmacher combines a practical approach with engaging aesthetics.
The tower was built to store coal which was then sent to the gasworks. The upper section of the forty-four-metre high tower, constructed from reinforced concrete, features decorative vertical partitions, separating oblong windows. This gives the tower a particularly expressive appearance. As a result, although it is damaged and no longer functional, the coal tower is still considered an exceptionally characteristic feature of Szczecin’s industrial landscape.
The future of the building after the liquidation of the traditional gasworks is however uncertain. Whether its industrial beauty and modernist design are sufficient to prevent it from being dismantled remains to be seen.
Address ul. Pocztowa 6, 48-370 Paczków
In the 1930s, the streets of the small town of Paczków in the Opole region were brightly lit, and almost every household used gas appliances.
The gasworks, which was opened in 1901, was already considered an essential part of the town, but there were still many years of hard work ahead of it. The last cart of hot coke left the plant as late as in 1977, which was then symbolically extinguished with champagne.
But this is not the end of the story. Today, the plant still stands and is put to good use. This is the only gasworks building in Poland, where the entire coke gas production line has been preserved. Using this heritage, the Gasworks Museum has been created to showcase one of the largest collections of gas meters and gas appliances in the world.
In 2018, the museum welcomed as many as 10,000 visitors. Perhaps they were attracted by the fact that this is one of the last places where you can see how it was possible to produce gas from a lump of coal? Or maybe they are tempted by the unique atmosphere of the former plant and the melancholic remnants of the industrial era – red bricks, strange devices? Now, anyone can find out for themselves, either by visiting us in Paczków or by looking at the virtual exhibition.
If you are interested in Paczków itself, here you can read an article about the creation of the museum.
Address ul. Kasprzaka 25, 01-224 Warszawa
What Domaniewska Street is for Warsaw today, in the 19th century it was the district of Wola.
It was in Wola where the then industrial hub of the city was located. At that time, this district was truly reminiscent of the Mordor realm from Tolkien’s novel. It was full of smoking chimneys and noisy machinery.
Factories were powered by the gasworks located at Dworska Street (present-day Kasprzaka Street). Its furnaces, as hot as the core of Mount Doom, pumped gas both to industrial plants and homes.
The gasworks was built in 1886–1888. From 1925, it functioned as the “Municipal Gasworks”. Rebuilt after the Warsaw Rising, it operated until 1978.
It continues to be a vital place on the gas map of Poland – the old building of the machinery room and the compressor room currently houses the Gasworks Museum.
Here you can find out more about the history of the gasworks in Warsaw.
Address ul. Kopalniana 35 Bóbrka, 38 - 458 Chorkówka
One of the most important attractions of this museum is an inconspicuous natural phenomenon which gave rise to the civilizational revolution.
The visit to the Oil and Gas Industry Museum in Bóbrka should start with the well from which crude oil used to be extracted. When we look inside, we will see a thick black mass covered with bubbles of methane. These exact wells were the start of the oil industry, which was about to transform the world.
This museum was created in the location where the pioneer of the petroleum industry – Ignacy Łukasiewicz once searched for and extracted crude oil. Together with Tytus Trzecieski and Karol Klobassa-Zrencki they launched an oil company. It was a gentlemen’s agreement, never written down. Trzecieski was the one to finance the enterprise, while Klobassa provided the land for the premises. Łukasiewicz became the plant manager.
Visitors to the museum have the opportunity to see the oldest oil wells in the world, which were built thanks to the efforts of Ignacy Łukasiewicz.
Address ul. Toruńska 18, 80-747 Gdańsk
In January 2019, the builders working on a new residential estate at Toruńska Street in Gdańsk were presented with an extraordinary discovery. The brick wall they dug out must have once served as the foundations of a large round structure.
Although the shape and the material were indicative of the building being either a castle tower or a fort, the uncovered wall was a fragment of the first gasworks in Gdansk. In this place once stood a storage tank with a capacity of 1200 m³.
The gasworks was opened exactly 166 years earlier – in the winter of 1853. The first gasworks in Gdańsk comprised a brick building with 12 furnaces and an additional half-timber building which housed coolers and sulphur recovery facilities.
The initially small gasworks was systematically expanded, and a decision was made to build a new plant once there was not enough space for further expansion. The facility was built at the mouth of the Motława river leading to Dead Vistula.
At the peak of the operation of the gasworks after the end of the Second World War, the largest gas holder, which was built in 1965–66 and no longer exists, housed 40,000 m³ of gas. The largest tank in the history of the gas industry of Gdańsk was a MAN-type waterless gas holder commissioned in 1926, which did not resume operation after the war. For many years, what was left of the tank was used as a production hall and later dismantled.
Address ul. Jagiellońska 42, 85-097 Bydgoszcz
Bydgoszcz Gasworks is one of the oldest in Poland. The building located at 42 Jagiellońska Street attracts the attention of visitors to the city with its elegant facade and impressive size.
It was designed in 1904 by a building officer under the name of Carl Meyer. It is likely that he wanted the gasworks – the symbol of the city’s modernity – to be suitably grand. Although the building has undergone many conversions and no longer produces gas, it continues to be an important element of the city’s landscape and a tourist attraction.
The gasworks is currently an important stop on the Bydgoszcz Water, Industry and Craft Trail known as TeH2O. Although original equipment has not been preserved, visitors can still see elements of the natural gas distribution network and listen to the stories told by the gasworks’ employees.
It is likely that you will hear the echoes of the educational lectures which took place here already one hundred years ago. In the interwar period, Bronisław Klimczak – the gasworks director – organised for the city’s residents as many as 174 lectures on the production of gas, methods of its domestic use and on its economical consumption. These lectures are said to have enjoyed considerable interest among the residents of Bydgoszcz.
Address ul. Kardynała Wyszyńskiego 20, 11-220 Górowo Iławeckie
The gasworks in Górowo Iławieckie is made special by the fact that it has been preserved in excellent condition, despite not being functional for over twenty years.
The plant has been looked after by its former employees, who took charge of the refurbishment work and who also prepared the exhibition on its premises. In the course of their work, they have made several discoveries, which helped to reconstruct the appearance of the former plant. The brick flooring inside and the old cobblestones around the building have been restored.
The museum comprises not only installation elements, such as gas flow meters and gas pressure meters, but also gas-powered household appliances – heaters, ovens and stoves. The dedication shown by the gasworks’ old employees has transformed the facility into a tourist attraction of Warmia and Mazury.
Address ul. Targowa 18, 90-042 Łódź
On 25 August 1889, those taking a stroll in Helenów Park were treated to an amazing sight – a balloon was rising into the air, carrying two daredevils in its basket.
One of them was about to jump out with his parachute! However, this was not a display of courage, but … a promotional campaign for gas. The posters advertising the event explained that the gas used to fill the balloon with hot air was supplied by the gasworks in Łódź.
While Warsaw had had an operational gasworks which powered gas street lamps in the capital for over a decade, Łódź continued to be illuminated with oil lamps. The residents of Łódź finally had enough and forced the municipal authorities to commence the construction of a gas plant. The first gas street lamps illuminated Piotrkowska Street in 1869.
The twilight of gas lamps only began with the commissioning of the municipal electric power plant in 1909. Today, the last remaining gas street lamps can be seen on top of the plant’s wall. Fortunately, by supporting events such as the balloon exploits mentioned above, the gasworks succeeded in promoting the use of gas in households, allowing gas to maintain its popularity for a long time to come. The production of gas from coal only came to an end in 1976. In that year, the municipal network began to carry a new type of fuel – natural gas.
If you would like to find out more about this fascinating topic of gas promotion and advertising, visit our virtual exhibition, while you can find more information about the gasworks itself here.
Address ul. Gazowa 16, 31-060 Kraków
The magical Kraków also had its own gas street lamps. Kraków was actually the first city in Poland with streets illuminated with gas.
In 1830, a special demonstration of the new type of lighting was held in Gołębia Street. However, the first legitimate street lamps in Kraków were first lit almost thirty years later – on 22 December 1857 in the Main Market Square. Most importantly – they were supplied with gas produced at the newly-finished municipal gasworks.
The gas plant was built in Kazimierz. The choice of location was dictated by the access to a railway line and a water intake – the gasworks had its own railway siding and a water tower. They provided the plant with two materials necessary for gas production: coal and water.
At first, gas was mainly supplied to the city’s street lamps. Soon, also other parts of Kraków, namely Lubicz and Stradomska Street, were illuminated with gas. Only then gas lighting was installed in the vicinity of the gasworks – in the district of Kazimierz.
However, the residents of Kraków were quite resistant to the idea of this new type of fuel. Coal continued to reign in the city’s townhouses. Although today only the water tower remains from the former gas production facility and the gasworks supplies natural gas instead, Kraków is still drowning in man-made smog.
Address ul. Gazowa 3, 50-513 Wrocław
Today, only a few buildings remind us of the once active industrial complex, which resembled a gigantic brick triangle from above.
There were as many as four gasworks operating in Wrocław. The first gas plant was commissioned in 1847 (at Tęczowa Street). The last one was special because it was considered to be one of the largest and most innovative gasworks in Europe.
It was opened in 1906, and in 1928 it reached its full capacity, producing over 70 million m³ of gas each year. The gas was stored in two gas holders, each with a capacity of 110,000 m³. The gasworks made use of a wide range of unique solutions, which also improved the safety level in the facility. Special fireless locomotives were used for transport within the premises of the facility – instead of a firebox they ran on boiling water.
After the plant was decommissioned, most of the buildings were demolished; however, the surroundings of the gasworks have changed for good. The suburban village of Tarnogaj, located in the immediate vicinity of the gasworks, features houses which were erected for the plant’s employees. It is still possible to see some of these old houses. Today, they function as hidden mementoes of the industrial revolution.
Here you can see the blueprint of a workshop and storage facility of Wrocław Gasworks.
Address ul. Syrokomli 5, 57-530 Międzylesie
Gasworks represented the industrial revolution.
That is why in Poland they most often were erected in the industrialised Silesia. One such facility was a coal gas plant in Międzylesie. Although its building seems quite modest, this is a truly unique place.
The gasworks was commissioned in 1905 and operated for almost one hundred years – until 1998. The gasworks in Międzylesie was the last operational gasworks in Europe! Its closure meant that the use of coal to produce gas was completely displaced by electricity and natural gas.
Address ul. Grobla 9, 61-858 Poznań
The construction of a gasworks in Poznań was an immense project – the construction budget almost doubled, the employment numbers tripled within a dozen years, and the project required the erection of a special railway siding able to welcome trains carrying hundreds of tons of coal.
The production of gas began in 1856. Half a century later, the gasworks supplied gas to almost the entire city, which continued to expand. In 1939, the gas network in Poznań stretched for 250 km, supplied by the gasworks with tens of millions of cubic meters of gas annually.
The gasworks was able to meet the needs of the city – it provided heat and light to improve the living conditions of the residents and to facilitate the development of businesses.
The gas plant was operational until 1973, when a new type of fuel started to flow in the pipeline – natural gas.
Here you can find out more about the history of the gasworks in Poznań.
Address ul. Czysta 1, 55-050 Sobótka
Apart from functioning as industrial monuments, today old gasworks are also an inspiration for people of good taste.
All the way until the 1980s, the gasworks in Sobótka generated town gas from coal using the traditional method of dry distillation. With the end of production, the building started to fall into disrepair. Its industrial charm had to wait a while to be finally appreciated by … wine connoisseurs. Since 2015, visitors to the old gasworks have been able to enjoy the taste of fine wines in a very original setting.
The building houses a sixteen-chamber furnace, a steam boiler, a system for retort loading and unloading, tar separators, desulphurisation devices and a steel gas storage tank.
Address Ostrów Tumski, 50-001 Wrocław
Every evening, the footsteps of the city’s lamplighter count the hours until sunset.
After darkness falls, the entire district becomes illuminated with gas light – you can witness this yourself by visiting Ostrów Tumski in Wrocław.
Approximately one hundred street gas lamps are connected to the gas network. Although this gas network was installed in 1847, it continues to operate and is subject to maintenance work. In the past, this gas pipeline supplied gas to street lamps, hotels, restaurants, public utility buildings and households.
Gas lamps were a symbol of modernity and today they could tell us lots of fascinating stories from way back when! The gas lamps in Wrocław continue to serve the residents and visitors alike and provide the lamp attendant with employment.
Address Stare Miasto, 31-001 Kraków
Gas sourced from inside of the Earth’s core not only heats our homes but also ignites our imagination.
One of the most famous Polish legends tells the story of a monster who breathed fire. The fiery breath of the Wawel Dragon could turn many a daredevils into ash.
Today, this legendary beast can be visited quite safely at the foot of the Wawel Castle. This has been made possible not only by the brave deeds of cobbler Skuba but also thanks to the craftsmanship of Bronisław Chromy, an artist from Kraków, who created the dragon’s sculpture.
Employees of Kraków’s gasworks have also played their part in this tourist attraction – to breathe fire, the dragon needs the gas supplied from the municipal gas network.
Address ul. Franciszkańska 15, 87-100 Toruń
Nicolaus Copernicus dedicated his whole life to observing the sky and studying its secrets. Today, everyone can become an astronomer.
Toruń planetarium is one of the most important tourist destinations the city. It is highly likely that very few of the visitors are aware that this characteristic round building located near the Old Town Market Square in Toruń is an old gas holder. The structure was in use from 1860 as part of the municipal gas network. In 1989, work began on its adaptation to its new function. The storage tank was then covered with a special projection dome. At present, Toruń planetarium is one of the most visited in Europe.
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