An amateur Reading photographer who took up the hobby during lockdown was shortlisted for Historic Photographer of the Year 2021 with a photo of the town’s iconic gas tower.

After Leslee Barron, who lives opposite what she calls “Reading’s majestic crown,” entered the Historic England competition she didn’t give it a second thought.

That is until she was congratulated for becoming one of 50 historic photographers of the year by a friend on Facebook.

“I thought oh! I couldn’t believe it, it was a great surprise,” said Leslee, who has lived in Reading for 32 years.

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The competition, which was won by Steve Liddiard with a shot of Whiteford Point Lighthouse in South Wales, was judged based on originality and historical impact.

Leslee said of Gas Holder No 4 in Alexander Turner Closer: “It’s a really valuable piece of our history.

“You get the most amazing sunsets and depending on the weather and the time of day the gas tower looks different colours”

She described the golds, blacks, whites, greys and light blues she has caught on camera.

“I call it the many moods of the gas tower and I try to capture them.”

Work to dismantle the tower to make way for 130 flats began in September, despite Leslee’s efforts to stop it.

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“When I found out it was going to be dismantled I did everything I could to stop it.”

She wrote to developers asking for an alternative design that incorporate the tower, objected to planning application and encouraged others to voice their opinion online.

Leslee also made the council aware of peregrine falcons nesting at the site, which delayed its demolition by six months.

The tower’s cast iron column base structure dates back to 1887.

“When you’re coming home, and you get off the M40 and you’re on your way back and you just glimpse the gas tower you think, oh yeah I’m home.”

She compared it to the Angel of the North, near where she grew up.