An illustration of Battersea Power Station from the south side of the Art Deco building, which is situated in Battersea, West London Click the image to enlarge

The general public only see the exterior and consequently the interior and its wonderful engineering, with its terrifying machinery, hardly gets the notice it deserves

— Giles Gilbert Scott in a letter to The Times

Learn more about Battersea Power Station below...

History

Back in 1927, when the plans for Battersea Power Station were first proposed, many from the general public and the government voiced their concerns for the station's existence.

In the 1920s, there were a large number of private power supply companies who built their own stations and sold excess power to the public to make profits — this meant costs were being driven higher and higher, and there was no central system to dictate how things should be run. However, the government knew that it would take at least 30 years to bring all power supply under public ownership, so the solution in the meantime was to reduce the number of smaller power stations by constructing a number of large ones where electricity could be generated — Battersea Power Station being one of them.

The original plans for the building were designed by Leonard Pearce with help from the architectural practice Halliday and Agate. Giles Gilbert Scott was only later involved in the project to win over the public by working on the exterior aesthetics of the building.

The construction of the power station was carried out in two stages, with station 'A' being the first, then station 'B' constructed shortly after the start of World War II. However, by the end of the 1970s, station A closed and then station B about a decade later in 1983. There were plans to knock it down, however, a campaign successfully saved the iconic London landmark and the building was eventually awarded a Grade II listing.

Since its closure, a number of development companies have tried to turn the complex into residential homes, offices, entertainment complexes and a football stadium; however, none of these ever materialised, until recently in 2012. Now under the ownership of Malaysian developers, SP Setia and Sime Darby, Battersea Power Station is being transformed into a mixture of offices, shops, penthouse flats, and art and leisure facilities.

Did you know?

During the 1980s, Battersea Power Station was halfway through being transformed into a theme park by the same developer who built Alton Towers. However, due to funding, plans fell through and the site was eventually sold to a Hong Kong investment group.

The architecture

Battersea Power Station consists of two stations — A and B, which are laid out next to each other. Station A is on the west side and Station B on the east, forming a symmetrical plan. Both stations have long central boiler houses with a lower turbine house next to it and smaller switch houses on either side.

The building is clad in brown Blockley bricks in a steel frame with concrete roofs and chimneys, and metal-framed windows. The four white chimneys, designed as fluted Doric columns with two rings at the top, sit on large towers with vertical fluting and stepped levels at the base of the chimneys.

The interior of the power station, designed by J Theo Halliday, was decorated in Art Deco style with giant fluted pilasters, a grey Napolean and Black Belgian marble staircase, and blue-grey cladding tiles.

See images of Battersea Power Station