FOUR landmark gas towers – a familiar sight to the people of Partington for the past 40 years – will bite the dust soon.

The structures will come down when National Grid’s Heath Farm Lane liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage facility is demolished.

Former workers and community representatives took a final tour of the site to bid the towers farewell last Friday (January 27) before demolition begins in late spring.

A recent review of the UK LNG storage business concluded that the storage tanks at Partington were no longer needed because of advances to the national gas network since it was built.

Simon Richardson, LNG storage manager, said: “Our Partington site has played an important role in the storage of the country’s gas for around four decades and it is with a hint of sadness that we have to let them go.

“While Partington’s facility has become outmoded, developments in gas storage technologies have built upon the knowledge and experience gained at such sites. In that respect, its legacy will last for may years to come.”

Those visiting the site included ward councillor John Smith, who said people would be sad to see the towers demolished: “It may seem strange to be mourning a gas works, but we are. They have been good neighbours.”

A former manager of the site, Mike Tosker, aged 69, worked there from its early days in 1972 to 1993 - and is now working on its decommissioning.

He said: “This is the first time I have been involved in decommissioning a plant.

“I have some mixed feelings, but 40 years is a long life for a plant like this. They are designed for 25 years.”

For a number of employees, working at the site has been a family affair.

Partington Town councillor Wayne Edwards, 47, was a construction worker there in the late 1980s, and his grandfather and father also worked there.

He said: “I am really upset to see it go, although I understand it is obsolete now.”

Chemist Chris Hill worked at the site for 33 years while technical assistant Alan Hoyle clocked up 26 years. Alan’s father and uncle were fellow employees.

Alan said: “It is a shame to see it go.”

Chris added: “Inevitably, this sort of place outlives its usefulness.”

National Grid has agreed to donate several items of industrial interest from the site to the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry.

The company is also videoing and photographing the demolition process and adding this to the many historic records it has collected of the site over its lifespan.