Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Battersea Powerstation, London - August-October 2013

It's been a while, life has been hectic, new job, moving to London etc, but I thought I could squeeze this in. Seeing as the world and his wife have gone public with this now it's probably about time that I do too (read here for more public/non-public information). This blog is pretty much taken straight from my report on the site from October. We basically had the run of this place for a few months, and it was great. Still do-able now, hoping to nip back soon. Hope you enjoy. 

At the tender age of 14 Sirjonnyp has just discovered Pink Floyd. Instantly our hero is gripped by the diverse and majestic sounds that he hears as he works his way through the back catalogue, as well as the album artwork. Two years down the line he finds a copy of Storm Thorgerson's Mind over Matter in a shop very cheap, and after reading cover to cover regards the cover for Animals to be his favourite album cover. A minor obsession with Battersea Power Station begins.

Two years down the line our her is making his return journey from the World Scout Jamboree and meets his at-the-time girlfriend in London. After passing the site on the train on the way Jonny decides that he'll chance his arm and see if he can visit Battersea, and drag his missus along. After some abuse and dodgy directions from the late Brian Haw the walk with three weeks' worth of camping gear from the Houses of Parliament wasn't exactly the reunion that his girlfriend was hoping for. Security at the gate are not receptive at all to our eager protagonist's dream of visiting the site, and his hopes are dashed. On the plus side though he was able to pose with a small trinket that he had bought his (vegetarian) girlfriend named 'Sausage' to replicate the album cover.

Over the course of the following years his interest in the power station remains. During one cold March evening in 2012 whilst browsing for recent photos of the site he sees one of some people watching fireworks from the roof. Some further investigation informs him that these people are urban explorers, and he is led to a website called '28dayslater'...

Built in the early 1930s, this iconic structure, with its four distinctive chimneys, was created to meet the energy demands of the new age. Sir Giles Gilbert Scott – the man who also designed what is now Tate Modern and brought the red telephone box to London – was hired by the London Power Company to create this first of a new generation of ‘superstations’, with the building beginning to produce power for the capital in 1933.
With dimensions of 160 m x 170 m, the roof of the boiler house 50 m tall, and its four 103 m tall, tapering chimneys, it is a truly massive structure. The building in fact comprised two stations – Battersea ‘A’ and Battersea ‘B’, which were conjoined when the identical B section was completed in the 1950s, and it was the world’s most thermally efficient building when it opened.
But Battersea Power Station was – and is – so much more besides. Gilbert Scott lifted it from the prosaic into the sublime by incorporating lavish touches such as the building’s majestic bronze doors and impressive wrought-iron staircase leading to the art deco control room. Here, amongst the controls which are still in situ today, those in charge of London’s electricity supply could enjoy the marble-lined walls and polished parquet flooring. Down in the turbine hall below, meanwhile, the station’s giant walls of polished marble would later prompt observers to liken the building to a Greek temple devoted to energy.
Over the course of its life, Battersea Power Station has been instilled in the public consciousness, not least when Pink Floyd
 famously adopted it for its Animals album cover and launch in 1977. As a result of its popularity, a great deal of energy has been expended in protecting this landmark.
Following the decommissioning of the ‘A’ station in 1975, the whole structure was listed at Grade II in 1980 before, in 1983, the B station was also closed. Since that time, and following the listing being upgraded to a Grade II* status in 2007, Battersea Power Station has become almost as famous for plans heralding its future as for its past. Until now, that is.
The transformation of Battersea Power Station – this familiar and much-loved silhouette on the London skyline – is set to arrive, along with the regeneration and revitalisation of this forgotten corner of central London. History is about to be made once more.

Enough of talking in the third person, the point of my above ramble was just a little explanation of why this site is so very special to me. Not only was I mildly obsessed by it for years, but it was what led me to discover urban exploring and the 28 days later forum  (group hug) 

I've visited BPS four times last year, so these photos are a mix of those four visits. It's still do-able now, so there may be more to come. 

Visit I - August - with RW, JB, Gabe, Elliott, Keitei, 2wid, Seffy and the Bristol lot

After being mentioned as an after party for the London I knew I couldn't turn the opportunity down despite needing to be at The Oval for the final day of The Ashes with my dad in the morning. It didn't help that it was pissing down, which made for a bit of a miserable bus journey. However, soon enough we were inside and I was as giddy as a kipper. Most of my photos didn't come out as a result of this, but there were a few decent ones in there. It seemed to wet for A side, so we settled for B control and roof. I was able to meet my dad for the cricket on no sleep in soaked clothes. He was not impressed.

Visit II - September - with most of the above lot, with the addition of Tumbles and his friend Charlotte

After our first proper visit left us wanting more we hastily arranged a return trip for two weeks later. Unfortunately I was at a gig when most people went in, so was left to show the new guys the way in. A control was like a wet dream for me, although I was smashed... This visit I cleverly decided to leave my tripod quick release plate
 at home, so a lot of A side photos didn't come out as I tried to use a bean bag on top of my tripod. We made our way up to the roof. 

Visit III - September - with non-member George

After hearing of my first two visits one of my oldest and best friends George wanted in, so on the following wet Friday night I offered to take him as he'd done a few sites with me before. Our plan to hit A hit a snag, so we hit B instead. Having been before, and with less people too, my shots of B came out a lot better this time, and then we headed for the roof. Soaking wet, but worth it for the chimney. 

Visit IV - With Maniac, Frosty, Adam, and a few other Kent boys whose forum names I can't remember

This was perhaps the most interesting visit in a way as it really showed off what a maze the place is, despite having been three times already. There m
ay have been a minor incident, but we got both sides done.

We resolved to do B side second, although our group of 8 split in to two, with our half stopping off at the white room first, which was pretty chilled out. We made our way over to B, but for some reason this time the climb wasn't in me, perhaps with the afore mentioned incident in mind from earlier. Leaving Maniac at the top, the three of us took the stairs instead, then spent ages trying to negotiate our way to B control from there. I barely took any photos this time, before our group split again with my lot doing B chimney and the others doing A.

So that concludes my blog. A huge thank you to everyone I went with, especially those who have laid the way for the rest of us to be able to do some bits of the site that otherwise may not have been possible. My photos are mainly 'touristy' so sorry about adding much of the same to the ever-increasing amounts of BPS reports and blogs online.

Oh, and if anyone was wondering whatever happened to Sausage, I guess pigs can fly.

Thanks for reading. More to come.


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