Battersea Power Station. London landmark and industrial heritage icon.
From the 1930’s through until the 1980’s, a working power station. Battersea Power station was a living, growing thing. Established in the 1930’s and expanding through the decades. At it’s peak, producing a fifth of London’s power supply.
The vast brick structure has powered London, supplying landmarks such as the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace. The chimneys acted as a navigation aid for RAF pilots and the Luftwaffe allowing it to escape extensive bombing. It’s appeared on the big screen and made the cover of a Pink Floyd album.
In 1983, the power station fell silent. Electricity production ceased, the building closed.
After some derelict decades, there’s a buzz about the place once again. This time, created by leisure rather than industry. Battersea Power Station is now a place to shop, eat and explore.
Battersea Power Station: Past & Present
Battersea Power Station was Grade II listed for architectural and historic interest, meaning when it was reinvented for a new generation it was done with a careful hand. The result is a fascinating mix of original heritage and reimagining.
Turbine Hall A has been restored to all its Art Deco glory. Incredible that something built for industrial purposes was designed to be so beautiful. A Greek key pattern, part of the original hall, has been included in the modern design.
Turbine Hall B by contrast, speaks to 1950’s design. Not quite so beautiful, but still impressive in scale and style.
In both halls, old gantry cranes and rails remain. The footprint of the old turbines are picked out in brickwork on the floor. There are reminders everywhere of where you are and what it was all about.
Elsewhere, old brick walls are exposed from floor to ceiling. It shows the scale of the place, but more than that. Evidence of old staircases, touches of old tiling and all the knocks and scars. Tiny parts of the Power Station’s own history.
History aside, if shopping is your thing you’ll be well served here. Everything is covered; fashion, high end beauty, homewares, even a Lego store complete with a Lego Battersea Power Station. What’s a bit of London shopping without a trip to a Lego store?
There’s also plenty of places to eat, drink, play or relax. A cinema, crazy golf, a ping pong experience. Oh, and a fun elevator experience. Lift 109.
When Battersea Power Station was restored, the biggest challenge was presented by the chimneys. With a Dangerous Structures Notice slapped on them, they stood too iconic to demolish yet unsafe to stand.
The solution? A team was pulled together with Historic England at the helm to dismantle the original chimneys and rebuild them precisely, using the original plans.
When you’ve gone to that much trouble , you’ve got to make something of it, right?
The ‘something’ in this case is Lift 109; a glass elevator that ascends the north west chimney, offering visitors panoramic views across London.
The Lift 109 experience begins in Turbine Hall A, where you’ll be greeted and allowed some time to explore a small collection of original records and multimedia displays exploring the building’s past.
Next, the Infinity room. An immersive experience of light and sound that tells the story of the power station in more detail. Then, the main event. Lift 109.
More light and sound effects accompany the exhilarating ascent 109m up to the viewing platform. From here, a full view of London laid out before you and a unique opportunity to look down on Battersea Power Station itself.
In a bit of a blogger fail moment, I didn’t get that many pictures from the top. I was caught in the moment. The views are best experienced first hand anyway, this fabulous experience is one I highly recommend putting on your London list.
I did put together an Instagram reel of our experience though. I hope you enjoy it. If you’re not following me on the ‘gram over at @thingsheleloves, come on over. I’d love to have you.