The St Albans gas works were set up in 1826, more than 30 years before the coming of the railway. Until the coming of the railway, coal had to be transported into the city on barges along the canal from Boxmoor and then by horse and cart. By the beginning of the twentieth century the gas works occupied a very large site with some very substantial industrial buildings, railway sidings, cranes and gasometers running alongside the railway and behind a short row of cottages on Holywell Hill. This is roughly where Sainsbury’s and the Abbey View Retail Park are today. The proximity of the railway meant that coal could easily be transported to the gasworks for processing into gas as well as coke and creosote.
The works closed in 1971 and the buildings were blown up on November 5th 1975. For years the land was considered to be contaminated and not used. Eventually it was considered safe enough to build the retail park. Two gasometers remained until 2014, when they were dismantled.