The beauty of gasholders

On 25 October 1960, a Boeing pilot aiming for Heathrow accidentally landed at an RAF base, only realising his error when the runway turned out to be alarmingly short. Disaster was averted, but the near-miss caused some embarrassment, and the minister of aviation had to answer questions in the House. What had confused the pilot, it emerged, was the advice from air traffic control to start his descent ‘in line with the gasholder’. He had picked the wrong one. Ever since, the gasholders near Heathrow and RAF Northolt have had painted on them, in 50ft-high letters, ‘LH’ and ‘NO’. There is a surprising amount of strange lore about these industrial