The monumental Battersea Power Station redevelopment finally opens its doors to the public this month, after more than eight years in the making and an eye-watering £9 billion investment for the whole site.
An iconic fixture of London’s Thames skyline, the original power station was built in the 1930s and was joined with a second turbine hall in the 1950s. At its peak, the station produced a fifth of London’s electricity, until the power was switched off in 1983. In its heyday, it was burning through 230 tonnes of coal PER HOUR. Right in the middle of a city of 8 million people. Gulp.
Different developers tried and failed to take it over (apparently Alton Towers even thought about turning it into a theme park), but the building remained empty and unloved until the current owners, a consortium of Malaysian investors, bought the site in 2012.
Vast, airy and architecturally staggering, the building is now home to loads of shops, restaurants and bars, as well as around 254 homes and thousands of square feet of office space (including Apple’s new UK headquarters). There’s everything from Joe and the Juice to the ‘biggest Zara in the UK’ to independent businesses, like the Battersea Bookshop by Stanfords.
The whole thing feels like a mix of Tate Modern, Westfield, Printworks and the Rivoli Ballroom. There’s a cinema, a rooftop garden for residents, a gym, spa and a theatre. The Arcade Foodhall will open next year, with eight kitchens and a private dining room, while ‘Lift 109’, a glass elevator that goes up one of the four chimneys (which have been replaced with exact concrete replicas), will provide visitors with a 360-degree view of London.
The stunning art deco Control Room A, restored from the 1930s, will now be used as an events space, having already made its debut in ‘The King’s Speech’ and Burberry fashion shoots. Here, you’ll be able to spot the signage for ‘Carnaby Street 2’, which was code for Buckingham Palace’s power control. The room’s silver, brutalist, 1950s sister – Control Room B – will open to the public as a bar.
There are many other original features dotted across the site. Original switchgear machinery from the early 1940s stands as a sculpture in the entrance hall, skeletons of the original stairs are still visible on the walls and much original brickwork remains intact. A heritage trail will take place around the building spotlighting its past, including a free exhibition with oral histories and original material from the station’s working heyday.
The Battersea Power Station Northern Line tube extension that opened last year will be vital to the success of this project, which is expected to eventually bring in up to 30 million visitors every year. It opens to the public with a free ‘Festival of Power’, taking place on October 14-16 and October 22-23.
Scroll down for more pics of the amazing new space…
Our ultimate guide to what to see and do, eat and drink at Battersea Power Station.