The History Of London’s Power Stations

The recent news that Battersea Power Station is once again up for sale will be of little surprise to long-time watchers of the crumbling riverside building. Since closure in 1983 numerous plans for its redevelopment have been floated, only to be dashed (see the Guardian’s gallery for some examples). The most recent proposal, approved 2010, stalled in January when the group behind it went bust.

Battersea’s plight is particularly sad given that a little way to the east stands Bankside, another former power station (built by the same architect, Giles Gilbert Scott) that has been successfully redeveloped into Tate Modern, among the most popular art galleries in the world. Tate’s success suggests that there is (or should have been) a path toward post-power success for Battersea, had the right decisions been taken. The fear is that it may now be too late.

The fate of Battersea got us wondering about London’s other disused power stations. Click through the gallery above for a look at some of the stations we’ve lost, and a handful that have survived and prospered.

For more on the early history of London’s electricity generation, see this blog post by Ian Visits.

Photo credits:

Battersea Power Station by curry15 via the Londonist Flickrpool

Tate Modern by Eva Palazzetti via the Londonist Flickrpool

Greenwich Power Station by scappini via the Londonist Flickrpool

Acton Lane Power Station by ca1951rr under Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike license 2.0

Brunswick Wharf by Ian M under Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike license 2.0

Lots Road by Arpingstone under Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike license 2.0

Croydon Power Station by Peter Trimming under Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike license 2.0

Brown Hart Gardens by Johnathan Wakefield under Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike license 2.0

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  • G Evans

    The Fulham power station isn’t a big yellow self storage, though part of the power station complex has been converted to one. There’s a Sainsbury’s supermarket built next to that building. Sainsbury’s have bought it and are trying to redevelop it, demolishing most of it and building a new supermarket and housing.

    • Dean Nicholas

      Thanks for that, I’ll amend the caption accordingly.

  • A B

    Shoreditch Electric Light Station is now home to Circus Space: 

  • Stuart
    • Dean Nicholas

      Oh wow, great call on Kingston, I’d completely forgotten about it (embarrassing really as I grew up in the borough and went to school very near it).

  • Jean-Michel Genre

    Technically not “disused” although it is emergency-only I believe?
    Wapping Hyroelectric, now a gallery of course:

  • Anthony Rod Hill

    Leaving it to the private sector will not rescue Battersea from its plight.  It needs public ownership and a community-action based solution.  But don’t leave to Dave’s Big Society. 

  • Simon Luker

    Nice. Private development company after private development company have tried to do something with Battersea. The worst damage was done by the one in the 80s who wanted to turn it into a funfair or something. They tore out the interior, allowing the inside to rot for the next 30 damn years. At least they want bankrupt in the process.

    It used to have a parquet flooring the workers had to wear slippers to walk on, to prevent it being scratched.

  • DaddyBlogZAUK

    It always fills me with sorrow when you see these magnificent landmarks falling further into disrepair. I would love to see Battersea restored to something like its former glory, the architecture is fantastic, but I fear it is consigned to more years of erosion before somebody is brave enough to do something creative with it!

  • Zzapback

    Inflatable Me at Battersea! :-)

  • Jeff Warren

    Do you have any information regarding Westminster Electric Supply co located in Horseferry road & the occasion when it shut down at the instant His Majesty King Edward the Seventh entered the building to formerly open Parliament ?