27 February 2014

Battersea – we must rebuild it

Continuing from my from my last post about my tour of Covent Garden Flower Market and the area around Nine Elms.
I wrote a while back about how I am none too happy with the large ugly glass buildings that will be built to wrap around and obscure what is left of Battersea Power Station. All artist impressions or computer-generated images of how the site will look after the project is finished mostly show the area from the air or from the river, but I have not seen any views depicting how it will look from street level.
As we walked westwards along Nine Elms Lane I took some photos, shown top row, above (the bottom four pics were taken in February 2009). These views will not be possible once the new construction is in place. I noted how the brickwork of the building is in really poor condition. There is a hoarding that runs along the street with a quote on it. I now wish I'd made a note of whole thing. From my photos I can make out: "...have seen me before, but you don't know me. I stand here bold and strong. My proud heritage, combined with the future world, I will be like nothing you have seen..".
Further along near Battersea Park station, in Prince of Wales Drive, behind a lovely old wall made from London stocks are Battersea's gas holders and other buildings including an impressive 3-storey detached Victorian house called 'The Field'.
The lower floor of the house is at the moment being turned into a pop-up gallery for an exhibition of large framed photographs taken on a dull day with an expensive camera. It strikes me that if you care about a building and want to take some good shots of something you choose a good day for it as I did for my photos above.
The house itself is far more interesting than the framed prints. With a bit of elbow grease and tlc this sturdy brick structure that has stood there for approx 150 years would make a fantastic home or business space(s) as it contains most of its original features; hand-painted stained glass in the doors and windows, architectural mouldings, intricate Pugin-esque hallway floor tiles, and wooden stairs with curved wood and metal bannisters. I'd have included some pics of it here but we weren't allowed to take photos, though I couldn't really fathom why not.
Sadly this 2-acre site, including the 80-year old blue gas holder, and probably the surrounding wall as well, is going to be demolished to make way for – yes, you've guessed it – a development of metal and glass containing homes, shops and businesses – as if that hideous complex next door isn't bad enough.
It was all too much for me to take in and attempt to make sense of – too big, too much and too fast.
After seeing what was going to become of the Nine Elms area earlier that day, then walking past what's left of the power station, this was the final straw for me and it moved me to tears. Really, it did (sorry, this is 2014; I mean 'literally').
Ian Nairn used to get emotional about this kind of thing decades ago. He must be rolling in his grave. We are learning nothing – I doubt these glass replacements will last 50 years, let alone 150.
Soon there may be no historical details left for me to photograph and this blog will be all rants and sadness.
Sigh again.

1 comment:

  1. How incredibly sad, iconic Battersea reduced to yet another shopping park. So many innovative and creative things could have been done with, but I guess none of them could have made any money, and that of course is the bottom line. It's an amazing structure, one that should be preserved..


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