28 November 2020

Battersea Power Station – an update on the renovations

The whole riverside stretch between Battersea Bridge and 'Vauxhall Village' is today a swathe of new build, the old power station being only one of a few old buildings left standing in the area. A while back I wrote a provoacative piece suggesting they should pull the thing down. After all, if this building is so revered how come it was left open to the elements as a ruin for decades?! I followed up my thoughts in 2013 and then again in 2014. Why has this building become the famous one when so may like it were demolished completely? Consider, for instance, that the Lots Road Power Station has been empty for decades. Does this have anything to do with popluar culture? Pink Floyd? Or is it that the site was so huge that no-one was prepared or could afford to take it on?

A few weeks ago on one of those lovely bright, crisp, sunny, winter days, I had an urge to walk along the river from Battersea to Waterloo* and this afforded me the opportunity to have a nose in at the what's happening. It was a glorious day and everthing looked marvellous. And there were hardly any people about. And it was quiet. And I like it like that.

I followed the Thames Path into the main area of new build at the side of the railway arches filled with restauarants and food outlets but closed for business due to Coronavirus. Just a few people about, walking their dogs and enjoying the sunshine. I wandered around for over an hour and exited the site via Nine Elms Road where this old electrictity box sits.

Do go and have a wander through yourself. There is one-way pedestrian route through the site. Bear in mind that there are still a lot of buildings yet to be started and these will, as I mentioned in my earlier piece, obliterate the view from the Wandsworth side. So I'd advise you get there while the main building is still visible.

A nice addition is the old coaling jetty which has been tranformed into a decked garden complete with seats and flowers and excellent views, but at the moment it's only one way in and the same way out again. I hope that this will be connected to the Thames Path in due course. Note the dockers' mistresses along the edge the looking like topless sunbathers who have got a bit burnt. More here.

Adjacent to the jetty they've installed lots of low level planting and strange triangular raised ponds which offer interesting reflections of the power station. The broken reflections in the new glass buildings are also intriguing. The zig-zag walkways are a bit annoying though. I am fairly sure that people will very quickly make desire paths to cut off the pointy corners.

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Thanks, Jane