Battersea Power Station: a work in progress

I took a tour of Battersea Power Station this week.

Actually they aren’t offering tours to the general public yet but only to people who have some connection with the place.  I was alerted by another blogger alifesgayventure who gave me the link and then I entered some kind of lottery to get a place on the tour.

We were asked not to put photos on social media because they don’t want too many people applying: ‘last time we opened to the general public 40,000 people applied for tickets’, she said, shuddering in horror that so many people might want to do this.

After putting out a long list of dress code rules (including the ban of Ugg boots; there must have been some kind of Ugg boot related accident in the past because they were quite insistent on that one) we were supplied with hard hats and hi-vis jackets and let out onto the site.


The old Boiler House will become a shopping/entertainment complex.  Apple plan to move their ‘campus’ there in 2021

The power station itself was decommissioned in 1983, leaving behind this beautiful art Deco building,

It then fell into a state of disrepair.    At one point there were plans to open a theme park, however the cost of maintaining the Grade 2 listed building proved too much and the idea was abandoned.

Meanwhile its sister power station on the south bank thrived as the Tate Modern art gallery.


In the end, after more than thirty years, Battersea Power Station was bought by a Malaysian consortium and work began to make it into luxury flats.  Just what London needs: more luxury apartments that the locals can’t afford, bought up by investors from China who never even visit.


It really is an iconic building.  It has featured in numerous films and TV shows, from the film version of 1984, the Beatles film Help, Dr Who and Sherlock.


Most famously, it was the backdrop for Pink Floyd’s album cover Animals, in which a giant inflatable pig is tethered to one of the chimneys.

Back in the 1960s before Battersea became the heavily gentrified ‘South Chelsea’ it was a drab, working class neighbourhood.  For any fans of 1960s British cinema you can see it portrayed in Up the Junction, where a posh Suzy Kendal crosses the river from Chelsea to work in a factory to see how working class people live.  A young Denis Waterman gets sent down for stealing a car to try and impress her.  It’s a film of its time.

They are planning to open this tour out to the general public later this year, so worth keeping an eye on their social media if you’re interested. Free.

6 replies »

  1. oh, thanks ever so much for showing us what it is like now. they have removed all the in sides it seems, so that inside is empty. i suppose so that they can put in the foundations and the structures to hold up the flats that they will build inside. its much more open to the elements now.
    the outside of the building is always more interesting than the insides. so i guess it is a good decision to gut the insides.

    • the boilerhouse (which is that main building) is going to be a shopping center and cinema, plus Apple offices. This year they reckon on getting the river bus operating and start digging for the tube station. £1.33 million for the cheapest apartment in the development, if you’re thinking of moving in…

      • the central bit is the one without any windows to the outside, so suitable for apple offices, as i have noticed all computer geeks dont like sunlight on their screens. haha. and it is logical that a shopping centre and cinema is also there. both dont require natural lighting. if they are running the river bus, does it mean there are people moving into the flats? do u see signs of people living there? the bus 436 from lewisham is now diverted from vauxhall to end at battersea power station now, instead of to paddington station.

      • Yes that’s the bus I got. There are a few occupied already although there’s nothing else there really, no shops or restaurants yet. We were under strict instructions not to put our helmets and hi vis jackets on until we got onto the building site, since residents didn’t want to see lots of people walking round like that. So I suppose that means at least some are occupied

  2. Hello Sarah I found this really interesting but also it made me angry! Who really has that type of money and like you say, do we need more luxury apartments? I would like to have seen a picture of you in a hard hat and high vis. Hugs and love xx

    • Ah I’ve got to the point now where I just accept it. The place was in such disrepair that the only way to get their money back was to make luxury flats.
      I do love that building though.

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