SAFEGUARDING OUR HERITAGE
At the heart of the 42-acre development lies the Grade II* listed Power Station. In 2013, the architectural practice, WilkinsonEyre, were appointed for the refurbishment, proposing designs consistent with Sir Giles Gilbert Scott’s original vision.
Restoration work is now well underway, led by construction manager Mace and in partnership with Historic England. The Power Station is due to open to the public in 2022.
Just over a decade ago, a steering group was formed to carry out a thorough and transparent investigation into the condition of the chimneys and to consider the best future strategy for them. The group, which included concrete repair specialists, conservation engineers and corrosion consultants, undertook rigorous laboratory testing of numerous samples from all four chimneys.
The testing showed the concrete to have high chloride content and to be carbonated, resulting in corrosion of the steel reinforcement. The extensive conversations that followed, between industry experts, the developers, the local planning authority and Historic England, confirmed the course of action required.
Overseen by Historic England, work began in 2014 to painstakingly dismantle and carefully rebuild all chimneys to the precise specification of the originals. By doing this, the chimneys will have the same lifespan as that of the rest of the restored Power Station.
The team responsible for this programme used the original architects’ plans and specifications and therefore ensured the reconstructed chimneys were identical to their predecessors. One of the original methods used required over 25,000 wheelbarrows of concrete to be poured by hand into shuttered layers which were allowed to set one by one.
Samples of the original paint were taken and meticulously colour-matched to determine the choice of paint applied, with each chimney requiring 375 litres of paint.
The new chimneys also consist of the same materials as the originals, the only difference that they have modern steel reinforcement structures.
Two firms that made the bricks to build Battersea Power Station in the last century have been tasked with hand-making 1.75 million more to match the originals.
The original bricks, known as Golden Brown Pressed, came from Northwick Brick and Tiles, a firm founded by the World War I hero and art collector Captain E G Spencer-Churchill, a cousin of Winston Churchill.
The family-owned business (now known as Northcot Brick) is still based at the same Gloucestershire quarry as it was all those years ago with access to the same Lower Jurassic and Middle Lias clay that was used for the original bricks. They will be providing 1.3 million bricks, all of which have been blended and packed by hand, to be used to restore parts of the Power Station built in the 1930s and 1940s.
Blockleys, in Shropshire, will be making 430,000 bricks to be used on the final parts of the building dating from the 1950s.
HERITAGE AND LEARNING HUB
To chart the history of Battersea Power Station, we have opened a Heritage and Learning Hub in Circus West Village. The exhibition has a selection of historical items from within the Power Station and visitors can learn about how the Power Station was designed and generated power.
If you’re a former worker, or friends or family of former workers, and would be open to sharing your memories and stories, please email us via the link below.
The Hub, located at Circus West Village, is free and open daily from 9am to 7pm. Click on the link below for more information.