As the city changes around us and more and more of our buildings disappear to progress it’s no surprise that the hobby of urban exploring has begun to take off. Recording buildings that have fallen out of favour and often left to decay has become a must for eager photographers wishing to capture buildings in the final phases of their lives.
One of the most prominent explorers publishes photos as ‘The Raw‘ and we asked him to share some of those photos with us here at Inspiring City. Travelling around London and the World in order to get the best images from the most remarkable buildings, one of Raws most notable successes were the images he documented of Battersea Power Station prior to it’s massive re-development.
Writing for Inspiring City, Raw told us “It doesn’t get much more iconic than this place and people are often amazed to find out there are two pristine control rooms hidden inside. I had a feeling it would be a tricky place to conquer and wasn’t wrong. It has security with dogs on site 24 hours a day and is protected by numerous high fences.”
“We nearly gave up on both control rooms after hours of getting lost and frustrated but with a bit of perseverance we managed to access both and escape unseen. Control room A had possibly the biggest wow factor of anywhere I’ve been so far and immediately made all our efforts worthwhile.”
There’s no doubt though urban exploring is a bit of a grey area. Clearly this is not something for the faint hearted and it would appear the law is quite specific. “I always abide by criminal law and only ever breach the civil law of trespass which is between me and the landowner, not something the police have the power to arrest me over unless they suspect I have committed an actual criminal offence of some sort.” says Raw.
But it must be risky? “I take the risk that if I get caught, a landowner might be pissed off enough to drag me through the courts for “steppin’ on moi laaand” and try to sue me for jumping over a fence to take photographs. The reality is that the landowners themselves are rarely present to pursue such charges so when caught you are asked politely (or not so politely) to leave and take your trespassing interests elsewhere.”
I’d visited the power station in 2013 during Open House when the building was opened to the public for the first time in many years. The site had been derelict for many years and already mainly a shell but unlike other iconic buildings in London it’s ‘architectural’ value meant that it’s exterior and chimneys at least would be saved. Still, on the open house there was only a very small section that the public could see, all on ground level and nowhere near the control rooms which, as shown in these pictures, are truly a window into the past.
“There is a thrill-seeking aspect involved in exploring some of these places ” says Raw “due to the fact you’re sneaking into somewhere you’re not meant to be but also a desire to see what lies behind closed doors and document it before it is gone.”
Battersea Power Station is now undergoing a major redevelopment with the shell of the existing structure being retained and the iconic chimneys dismantled before been re-built. It is one of the largest developments in London and will play host to a major mixed use retail and housing space. It is unknown what will become of the control rooms within the building which it is believed have been given listed status. We hope that in some way they can be preserved. The Raw is an urban explorer who documents abandoned spaces around the World, his work can be found on his facebook page which features many of his latest images. All photographs in this post were taken by ‘The Raw’.
Inside Battersea Power Station Gallery
For more guest articles on Inspiring City have a look at:
An Urban Take on Wine Production at London Cru
The Surreal Side of Street Art
Fascinating photos. In 1984 when I was a student I organised a trip for engineering student to visit Battersea Power Station, before things like Open House, we were taken on that visit to see those control rooms. They had blue prints of cross sections of the structure of the power station showing the turbine halls, the control room and the chimneys, they ran a few copies off and gave them to those of us who were interested. They were about 5 foot tall and one was blu tacked on the back of my bedroom door for a couple of years in a place I rented in Dalston. I also invited a guy along to talk to us about his proposal for a combined heat and power refuse burning power station on the site which was going to provide light and hot water to Battersea but that got nowhere near winning the tender competition for its future use which was running around that time. It fascinating to see those brilliant photos of the control rooms and even more interesting to hear that they are still present in such pristine condition, I had always assumed from the lamentable appearance of the building that those control rooms would have gone.
Wow thanks for those recollections Dave truly fascinating I would love to know if they are still there now the development is happening or whether they’ve been dismantled. It would be great to think they are being preserved in some way