Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Battersea Power Station

London The Unfinished City
Refurbished and reopened.

Battersea Power Station has been an iconic landmark on London's skyline since the 1930s. 

I had only visited the area once, back in 2014, when I visited Battersea Park and took a walk back to Westminster via the north bank. At that time the power station was in a state of neglect, having been closed since 1983.

London The Unfinished City
A derelict icon.

I took a few photos of the building, from the north bank, but never went to close to the building. 

London The Unfinished City
Battersea Power Station in 2014.

One of the other reasons for not visiting was that the entire area was more industrial, so didn't appeal to me at the time.

From 2014 a major regeneration of the area and the power station began. The Embassy of the United States opened just down the road in Nine Elms, in 2017 and with houses, apartments and an extension to the Northern line soon following the area was soon on the up.

London The Unfinished City
Embassy of the United States, Nine Elms.

Arriving at the power station, via the aforementioned Northern line extension, we made our way around the outside of the building, grabbing a coffee from one of the street vendors to fend off the bitterly cold wind. We walked around the building, which has numerous entrances on different levels, taking in the landscaped grounds and seating areas, which include a deck on the River Thames. A playground for children to enjoy, in warmer weather, is close by and I can see the entire area being the place to be in the warmer months. 

London The Unfinished City
An original chimney segment.

Suitably warmed we headed inside the building and were immediately dwarfed by the scale of the cavernous building. We passed through Turbine Room 'A' to Turbine Room 'B', with Emma checking out the various shops, boutiques, cafes and restaurants.

London The Unfinished City
Lots of levels and lots to do.

I was fascinated by the building itself as much of the Art Deco architecture was still in situ, with pieces of machinery hanging from their girders, near the roof, while other pieces were affixed to walls or were positioned as a feature.

London The Unfinished City
Machinery in situ.

Black girders and walkways were in keeping with the history and brickwork of the building, so they didn't look out of place and made the building much more appealing to the eye.

London The Unfinished City
A bustling, cavernous space.

Considering the amount of people in the building eating, drinking and chatting, the noise was quite low. Possibly being absorbed into the surrounding brick, or, maybe, it travelled upward to the roof and exited the building. Either way it was unlike any other shopping mall, where sometimes you can't hear yourself think because of the cacophony around you.

London The Unfinished City
The BT Tower and Westminster Cathedral are visible across the River Thames.

Needing some lunch we found that there was an abundance of choice, so we headed into 'Itsu' for a spicy soup.

Once finished we headed to the Lift 109 Chimney Experience.

London The Unfinished City
Lift 109.

On leaving the power station we headed out the way we had entered and stood by the riverside, deciding to take a Thames Clipper back towards Westminster, thus allowing us another different view of this iconic building.

London The Unfinished City
Battersea Power Station from the River Thames.

I look forward to revisiting this incredible building again in the coming months.

Brief History

London The Unfinished City
Derelict and unsafe.

In Anglo-Saxon times the area around Battersea was predominantly marshland, until techniques were developed to drain the land.

Once the land was ready Battersea became home to more than a quarter of all native plant species and had the perfect growing conditions.

London The Unfinished City
Old and new.

During the 17th century this fertile landscape made Battersea London's market garden, with a large proportion of the capital's daily fruit and vegetable needs being transported along the River Thames.

Asparagus, carrots, melons, pineapples and lavender were all grown here.

London The Unfinished City
Cathedral like windows.

Timeline of Battersea Power Station

  • 1929 - Construction begins under architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott
  • 1935 - Battersea 'A' generates electricity, first two chimneys complete
  • 1955 - Battersea 'B' generates electricity, two chimneys become four
  • 1955 - Boiler House is so big that St Paul's Cathedral could fit inside
  • 1975 - Battersea 'A' is decommissioned
  • 1980 - The building is given Grade II listed status
  • 1983 - Battersea 'B' is decommissioned
  • 2014 - Redevelopment begins
  • 2015-2017 - Chimney restoration
  • 2022 - Lift 109 opens to the public
  • An estimated 6 million bricks have been used to build Battersea power station
  • At its peak Battersea power station produced 20% of London's electricity

No comments:

Post a Comment