Sunday, 10 June 2012

Chelmsford Gas Works

Back in 1987 when I was sixteen years old, I moved to a town called Chelmsford about 20 miles eastwards of the UK capital London. I was already a budding deejay and graff writer by the time I moved to Chelmsford, so to find out that the town had it's own graffiti "hall of fame" was a real bonus when I arrived. Within walking distance of the town centre was the old Gas Works, which basically consisted of some abandoned warehouse/office buildings and a huge concrete circle approx 50m wide and 2m high (which I'm guessing was the original base for the giant gas tank that once stood there.) Both of these areas was heavily bombed with throw-ups, pieces and dope characters plus some amazing work by the infamous ESSEX ROCKERZ (I remember the names PROUD2, DEMANE and SEVERE) both inside the buildings and around the concrete circle. As a teenager thirsty for hip hop this place soon helped me forget the anguish of having to move across country in the first place. As long as there was hip hop in the new area I didn't care where my parents regular house moves took us.
I'm pleased to say that Chelmsford's hall of fame is still alive and kicking some 25 years later; the concrete circle still remains and is pieced most weekends weather permitting by some well known writers, although the dilapidated buildings were demolished in the early 90s if my memory serves me correctly. Over that 25 year period I have regularly visited the Gas Works to check out the active writers as they paint, and to photo the burners and pieces on display. And I must add that I am rarely disappointed when I visit, even though I now live a good 20 miles away. Chelmsford Gas Works still oozes the vibe that it had in the early days. And of course the quality of the work is high, which was the same back in the 80s. A lot of early UK writers caught a little fame over at Chelmsford HOF, and as long as it remains it will always be highly respected and regularly hit. And even after it has gone it will certainly be fondly reminisced over by all those who have been painted and photographed there.
I have to give a humongous shout to that dude SOUL SAFARI for posting up some old flicks from Chelmsford HOF over on his SOUL SAFARI website in a piece entitled "back to the old walls" and his Flickr page HERE where you can see some 80s action at Chelmsford. It seems we all have fond memories of the gas works in the early days. Keep writing ya name...

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Firstly.. Thanks for the props!

Always good to see Essex on the map. The Gasworks is prolly one of the LAST great (still standing) HOF's. The fact that that there is a lot of gas under ground has kept the place afloat. It is prime real estate and they are just waiting for the go ahead to expand Chelmsford. And it will be no more! Many a day spent down there seeing Essex Rockerz bust a wall. Be such a shame when it finally falls. Paint it while you can..

Check back on the website. Lots of updates in progress.Proud to boast 95% original content..

Nice one

Soul Safari

Anonymous said...

Always great to see how other heads remembered this place. We were lucky to be of 'that time' when we were going full throttle with big productions on those walls and were lucky enough to get a bit of a 'rep'. Because we were so close to our work, from an artistic perspective, we never really saw it how other heads saw it and I'm glad the work and the place is remembered fondly.
Best
Mark
Essex Rockerz

Daily Diggers said...

Hey Mark, great to see you leaving a comment on here thanks for taking the time. In 87/88 I attended Moulsham Street college in Chelmsford around the same time as SEVERE, and although we weren't friends I still had a lot of respect for what ERZ were doing. I still love the vibe of that place even 25 years later. Back then your styles were light years ahead compared to other late 80s piecing. Chelmsford was a busy place what with the Gas Works and DJs Fame & Fortune rocking jams down Victoria Road. Good times.

respect to the Essex Rockerz

Kid Dyno