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Battersea Power Station

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HISTORY OF THE POWER STATION

Art Deco Exterior Relief

Battersea Power Station was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott (who was also the architect of Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, Bankside Power Station and the famous GPO "K6" Telephone Box) and opened in 1937. The building was constructed for the former London Power Company on the site of the old Southwark and Vauxhall Water Works for the main purpose of supplying the Central and Western areas of London with electricity. The Power Station is built around a steel girder frame and Sir Giles designed the exterior brick cladding and the tower-like bases of the four chimneys. It is still the largest brick building in Europe.

The Power Station occupies a 15-acre site and was built as two halves. Construction of the first `A' Station, was commenced in 1929 and the `B' Station in 1944.

Permission for the erection of such a large Power Station as Battersea so close to the centre of London, was only given on the condition that the emissions from the 337 ft . chimneys should be treated to ensure that they were clean and smokeless.

The ultimate capacity of the Power Station was 503,000 kW, produced from an annual coal consumption of over one million tons and a daily water usage of 340 million gallons, which was taken directly from the River Thames for cooling purposes.

Heat from the generating process was used to warm the homes of nearly 10,000 people in the Pimlico and Dolphin square housing estates on the North bank of the Thames.

A 70,000 ton coal store occupied the space between the buildings and the river-front. Coal supplies from the North -East Coast and Welsh ports maintained by a fleet of colliers were unloaded at the jetty by means of a belt conveyor at a rate of 480 tons per hour. A large yard was also constructed to handle rail-borne coal.

In 1975 the "A" Station with its sumptuous Art Deco control room, Italian marble turbine hall polished parquet floors and wrought iron staircases was closed after generating electricity for 4 decades.


Battersea Power Station ceased all production of electricity in 1983, with the closure of the "B" Station, but the structure has been classified as a grade II listed building and cannot be demolished.

Many adventurous plans to renovate the site have been suggested, including a theme park, luxury housing and shops and hotels, but still no firm plans as to the future of Battersea's most famous landmark have yet been made.

Below are drawings and sketches from some of the many plans for the future use of the Power Station site.

"A" Station -Construction

Future Plans

Battersea "A" Station in full
production of electricity

Power Station - Midnight Jan 1st 1955

STOP PRESS

Parkview International's ambitious plans to redevelop Battersea Power Station into a retail and leisure destination have received final approval from the London Borough of Wandsworth.

The Thames-side landmark has had a chequered history since the building was partly demolished in the late 1980s. The latest planning decision gave approval to Nicholas Grimshaw's proposal for the redevelopment of Battersea Jetty, a 725-room hotel to form part of Europe's largest conference centre with 193,750 sq ft of meeting and banqueting space and a 2,100 seat theatre.

Overall, Parkview now has consent to develop the 14ha surrounding the power station with 1,125 hotel beds, a 475,000 sq ft product showcase building, a 237,000 sq ft seven-storey office building and a residential development. The listed power station building will house a mix of retail, cafes, bars, restaurants, cinemas and other attractions.

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