Battersea Power Station

Architecture

Revisiting an this iconic building

Last week, I finally had the opportunity to make my way to Battersea Power Station, and what a day it turned out to be. With clear skies and a gorgeous sun overhead and meeting up with one of my oldest friends, my visit was destined to be something special. As I stepped into this iconic building, I couldn’t help but be awed by the careful preservation of its history. It wasn’t what I was expecting and I’m not sure if I like what they’ve done with it. As my friend’s son said its like an airport with no planes.

The control room, with its vintage switches and dials, was a delightful surprise. They have done a lovely job of preserving and keeping it on display. You can still imagine when the room still hummed with the energy and it’s kind of cool sipping cocktails amidst this backdrop, but at the same time weird that it’s on the side of a shopping mall.

Years ago, I called the Nine Elms home. Most days, I would pass by the old, derelict Battersea Power Station on my way to various destinations. I couldn’t help but study the light on the façade, at different times of day, at different times of year and of course in different weathers. My fascination with the power station deepened over time.

Finally one day, I decided to halt my journey, captivated by the play of light that had become a part of my journey. Out came my trusty old 5×4 film field camera. I aimed to capture this breathtaking moment through the gate. It wasn’t a straightforward task; I had to disassemble the lens so that the front element rested on the inside of the gate while the camera itself was on the outside (I was so scared of dropping it). The effort was rewarded with a photograph that held a place on my website for years.

Last week, armed only with my iPhone, I embarked on a mission to replicate that same shot. It was a challenging endeavour, but the contrast between the two photographs highlighted the passage of time and the evolution of Battersea Power Station. I couldn’t help but wonder what Giles Gilbert Scott, the visionary architect behind this iconic structure, would say about these transformations.

Battersea Power Station, often affectionately called ‘the cathedral of power,’ or as the locals called “the upside-down table” has seen a remarkable journey. Built in the 1920s amid widespread objections, it has gone from being a source of controversy to a symbol of urban renewal. Ironically, those who once opposed its construction now have the only unobstructed view of it from posh Chelsea residences.

In 1983, this monumental site was offered for sale at a mere £1.5 million, a stark contrast to the recent sale of one of the flats nearby for a staggering £9 million. 

Although I have a vague memory of it being sold for a £1 sometime on the 90’s or 00’s because the owners were offloading it with the debts. Its been bought and sold a few times and there has been talk of different Poland over the yeas but nothing ever happened until recently. I even have an old AtoZ (if you don’t know what an AtoZ is its analogue google maps) where it says Battersea power station sports stadium opening 1988.

But beyond these titbits of history and personal anecdotes, Battersea Power Station stands as a testament to the ever-evolving spirit of London. Today, it welcomes visitors to explore its vibrant new life. If you haven’t had the chance to experience it yet, I wholeheartedly recommend a visit. (even if it’s just for the cocktails) It truly is a stunner, an architectural masterpiece that continues to captivate the hearts of those who encounter it.

Art Deco Hotel Bar, Palm Court, South Devon