Battersea Power Station Community Group web site


Frequently Asked Questions

Who designed Battersea Power Station?

The architects were J.Theo Halliday of Halliday and Agate, and Sir Giles Gilbert Scott. Halliday was responsible for the overall shape of the building and for the interiors. Scott was responsible for the exterior styling, including the art deco detailing of the chimney bases. The structure of the building was designed by engineers C.S Allot & Son. The generating plant itself was designed by Dr. S.L Pearce of the London Power Company. The builder (of Battersea 'A') was John Mowlem & Sons.

When was the Power Station built?

Battersea Power Station is in fact two power stations side by side: Battersea 'A' and Battersea 'B'. Battersea 'A' (with art deco interiors by Halliday) was commenced in 1929 and completed in 1935. Battersea 'B' (with a modernist interiors) was commenced in 1944, but the fourth chimney was not raised until 1955.

When did the Power Station close?

Battersea 'A' closed down in 1975 and Battersea 'B' closed down in late 1983. The building was listed Grade II in October 1980.

What happened after the building closed?

There was a development competition to find a new use for the building in the winter of 1983/84, organised by the Central Electricity Generating Board. The competition was won by the Roche Consortium, headed by Sir David Roche, with a plan to turn the building into a theme park. The Roche Consortium was subsequently taken over by John Broome of Alton Towers.  The Roche Consortium subsequently became Battersea Leisure. The theme park project finally started on site in late 1988, but work stopped in early 1989 after the roof and west wall had been removed.

What happened to John Broome?

In 1993 he opened an executive rest home at Carden Park in Shropshire.  He then became a visiting lecturer at the business school at the University of Sunderland. John Broome can be e-mailed at john.broome@sunderland.ac.uk

What is Wandsworth Council's role?

Wandsworth is the planning authority for the part of London in which Battersea Power Station is located, and is responsible for producing planning guidance for prospective developers. The planning brief for Battersea Power Station was drawn up as long ago as 1983 and has not been reviewed since that time.The 1983 planning brief emphasised leisure activities as the most suitable new use for the redundant building. This encouraged John Broome to put forward his theme park proposal, which Parkview says it will carry through to completion. BPSCG thinks that the whole question of what to do with the building should be reconsidered from first principles, with a new plan drawn up based on proper public consultation. For further information contact the Borough Planner, Mr. Ian Thompson, at the following address:

Borough Planner,
Wandsworth Borough Council,
The Town Hall,
Wandsworth High Street,
London SW18 2PU
Tel 44 181 871 6000 or see their website at www.wandsworth.gov.uk/index.html

What is English Heritage doing?

English Heritage makes inspections of the Power Station, which is listed Grade II.  Copies of inspection reports can be obtained from English Heritage at the following address:

English Heritage, Fortress House,
23 Savil Row,
London W1X

The officers responsible for Battersea Power Station at English Heritage are Philip Davies on 44 171 973 3710 and Geoff Noble on 44 171 973 3712 (fax 44 171 973 3792)

What does New Labour think about the theme park scheme?

New Labour supports the theme park scheme, presumably for fear of being seen as "anti-business" otherwise. Culture Secretary Chris Smith attended the launch of Batman with George Clooney and Arnold Schwartzenegger, which was held at the Power Station in the summer of 1997 and gave his support to the theme park scheme at that time. Deptuty Prime Minister John Prescott currently supports the theme park scheme as an alternative to the Millennium Dome, which is supported by his rival Peter Mandelson. (The Observer 24th May 1998)

How many firms of architects have been involved with the theme park plans?

About ten so far, with an average involvement of approximately 18 months

Peter Legge & Associates 1983-85
Fitzroy Robinson & Partners 1985-89
Renton Howard Wood Levine 1989-91
Portman International 1993-95
Renton Howard Wood Levine 1994-95
John Outram 1997-98
Arup Associates 1996-98
Wimberley Allison Tong & Goo 1997-
MacCormac, Jamieson & Pritchard 1998-99
Sir Phillip Dowson 1999-

What do local people think of Battersea Power Station?

"Londoners love Battersea Power Station" was the conclusion of a survey carried out by The Times in 1981. The building still seems to be popular, but there is also impatience and boredom about the delays with people wanting to see dereliction and inactivity brought to an end.

What would BPSCG do with the building and where would we get the money?

The BPSCG was set up in 1983 to see that what happens to the Power Station takes account of local opinions and needs. First therefore, the BPSCG would see that a new plan is drawn up, based on full public consultation. The BPSCG has already started this process, with the People's Plan for Battersea Power Station, drawn up in 1986. The People's Plan was evolved through open community planning forum meetings. The plan proposed a range of employment generating activities to strengthen the economic base of the area, such as studio workshops and a new railway station. The plan also proposed a wide choice of sports leisure and cultural activities. In 1995 BPSCG continued this planning process by organising the Battersea Power Station Forum, a Saturday conference to discuss the future of the building. The Forum was chaired by Anita Pollack MEP and the keynote speaker was Will Alsop. Other speakers included Alan Powers, Rob Cowan and Peter Kreamer. At the Forum, Will Alsop spoke about the "Hamburg Bauforum", a public design workshop which took place in 1985 to consider the future or the derelict Elbe waterfront in Hamburg. Various architects were invited by the City of Hamburg discuss their ideas for the regeneration of the waterfront with local people. Ideas started at the forum were subsequently adopted by the City as the basis for architectural competitions for specific sites. One of the competitions, for a ferry terminal, was won by Alsop and subsequently built. The Elbe waterfront as a whole has since enjoyed a renaissance of life and activity. The BPSCG made a proposal at the end of 1995 to the DofE for funding to organise a bauforum, but without success. Despite this, the BPSCG still thinks that a Bauforum for Battersea Power Station would be a good way of developing the Peoples Plan, and involving the public in the creation of a new quarter in London.

What is a community development trust?

A community development trust is a commercial organisation with social aims and objectives. Profits made are reinvested in the local community in accordance with the aims and objectives of the trust.There are many community development trusts at work in the country now in similar situations to Battersea; e.g. Miles Platting in Manchester. BPSCG has looked at the feasibility of setting up a community development trust at Battersea Power Station. A community development trust would allow many organisations - companies, public bodies, housing associations etc. - to become involved at Battersea, giving financial stability as well as social inclusivity to the project. A community development trust could organise a Bauforum, or other public planning workshop/consultation exercise, and have the resources to see it through. It could also take responsibility for carrying out repairs to the building (something Parkview is unwilling or unable to do) financed by the Heritage Lottery Fund and other sources.

Is there any further reading about Battersea Power Station?

Binney, M., The Colossus of Battersea, SAVE Britain's Heritage, 1981

Cochrane, B., Landmark of London; The story of Battersea Power Station, Central Electricity Generating Board, c1975

Garner, K., A Well Known Power Station, MA dissertation (unpublished), University of York Institute of Advanced Architectural Studies,

1993 Stamp, G., Boyd-Harte, G. (illus.) Temples of Power, The Cygnet Press, 1979

Stamp, G., "Battersea Power Station", in The Thirties Society Journal No1, 1980 Stamp, G., "Giles Gilbert Scott. The Problem of Modernism", in Architectural Design, Vol49, No10-11, 1979, pp72-83

The attempts to convert the building into a leisure centre since 1983 have been given extensive coverage in The Architects' Journal, Building and Building Design.

Reports and pamphlets can also be obtained from The Borough Planner, Wandsworth Borough Council, The Town Hall, London SW18 2PU. Tel 44 181 871 6000

 

Updated 11th May 2000

 


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