The four pillared former power station at Battersea has become an iconic part of London’s skyline. Left to decay over the years since de-commissioning it has been at the centre of a number of aborted redevelopment plans which have come to nothing and all the while crumbling as the elements begin to take over.
Now however work is happening and the area around Nine Elms Lane and Battersea will be utterly transformed. Already work is well under way on the new American Embassy just a short walk away and the go ahead has been given to the Northern Line Extension which will see new stations built at Nine Elms and Battersea, linking an area which has been poorly served in the past by London’s transport network.
For many years though Battersea Power Station has remained a mystery, blocked off from public view it has served as the location for various film shoots and occasional promotional activity by big sponsors keen to use the building as a backdrop. This weekend however all that changed as the building was opened to the public for the very first time as part of the Open House weekend. It was a one off opportunity to see inside the shell of this iconic building before development begins in earnest, and finally, work begins to transform this neglected part of the city.
Crowds gathered from the entrance at Chelsea Bridge all the way back to the pavillion in Battersea Park such was the public appitite for this building. A short walk took you from the embankment into a small manicured grassy area before heading into the station and through a covered walkway into station B and out the back. Because of the poor state of so much of the building the only areas safe to visit were those which had walkways covered with netting to safeguard against falling masonry. There are also other dangers present in the building, big rats, ravenous pigeons and a few foxes who call the place home. With all the crowds most were well out of site but come the evening, they are there and they take over.
The queues were a bit unwieldy such was the popularity of the event but lessons from the Saturday, when they became difficult to manage and the gates had to close early, were learnt the day after leading to a dramatic reduction in time to get through. In total 40,000 people passed through the building over the weekend making it one of the most popular openings in Open House history.
Open House London runs from 21st to 22nd September and includes over 800 properties opening their doors to the public for free. Battersea Power Station was included for the first time, opening it’s doors for a one off occasion allowing the public to see the building in it’s current state prior to redevelopment.
For more Inspiring City posts about Open House try: