Visiting Battersea Power Station in London
Battersea Power Station is such an iconic London sight! I've been following its redevelopment for a really long time, as it used to be on my way to work. So I watched in real time the apartments blocks being built around the station and the chimneys being disassembled and reassembled again. Imagine my excitement at reading that Battersea Power Station was finally opened to the public at the end of 2022. I just knew straight away I had to go and see it for myself, so come along with me on this discovery journey.
A bit of background:
Battersea Power Station is a big (literally, it's a massive building you can't miss) part of London's industrial heritage. It was originally a coal power plant, built in the 1930s-50s and designed by the same architect who is responsible for the building used by Tate Modern. The power plant was decommissioned in the 1980s. The building got a 'Grade II listed' status after its closure, but after several failed regeneration projects, the listed status did little to prevent it from just standing around unused and dilapidating. Remarkable and fascinating as it was though, Battersea Power Station was never completely forgotten and did make a memorable appearance every now and then as an event location or a film set. For example, did you know that they did some filming for the BBC hit show Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch there? Or that it had a short feature in one the Fast & Furious franchise films?
The latest and, luckily, successful regeneration project of Battersea Power Station turned it into a mix of office space, apartments and shopping centre, with newbuilt apartment blocks also surrounding the station building. The most notable office tenant is Apple, occupying 500,000 square feet of space. As things stood at the time of my visit in February 2023, not everything was open yet - for example, still to come at some point in 2023 is the large food court, which will make a massive difference, in my opinion, as the restaurants/cafes that were already operational couldn't accommodate all the people wanting to grab lunch, and we really struggled to find a free table somewhere. But the majority of the shops are open for business, plus there's a luxury cinema, an exhibition about the history of the building, and, last but not least, a viewing platform with 360-degree views at the top of one of the chimneys, called Lift 109.
I do love a good viewing platform, but my visit was quite spontaneous, and a short-notice ticket would have cost me almost £25, which I thought was a bit excessive. If you want to try out Lift 109, I highly recommend booking in advance to get a better deal. For more information on opening times and prices, check their website.
Even if you don't want to go up the viewing platform or do any shopping, a visit to Battersea Power Station is well worth it from a historical point of view. The restoration is done beautifully, so that the building it not only preserved from the outside (here's an interesting fact, they even took samples of the old paint of the chimneys to colour match, instead of just picking some shade of white and going with that), but has plenty of old industrial charm on the inside as well, whether it's the Control Room B cocktail bar with the original gauges, cranes hanging from the ceiling, or chunks of brick wall left without cladding. Here's a building that's standing proud of its industrial heritage, not just some faceless shopping centre that could be anywhere. I was in love at first sight. What an absolutely amazing project!
Another cool side effect of the regeneration is that the area around the station and the riverside have been made accessible to the public. I can imagine that especially in warm weather, grabbing a sandwich from one of the vendors outside and sitting down somewhere on the steps to enjoy the views would be absolutely delightful. Not warm enough for that in February, but I did enjoy a walk around Battersea Power Station, with some great photo opportunities from all sides of the building.
So if you are unsure and asking yourself "Should I visit Battersea Power Station?", my answer for you is a resolute YES. It's not all that centrally located, and a bit of a trek to get to, but it's totally worth it! For opening hours and any additional information, check the Battersea Power Station website.
Battersea Power Station has it own Tube station on the Northern line of the same name, and even a Riverboat dock, but I think that if you don't mind the walk, the best way to approach the station is from the opposite bank of the Thames, as it gives you extra cool photo views of the whole building (this is where the title photo of the post is taken from). So on my trip there, I got off at Victoria station and walked from there. Having taken in the impressive view from the North, I then crossed the Chelsea bridge and made my way onto Riverside walk and toward the station.
If you do decide to go, I hope you love Battersea Power Station as much as I did. It is such a unique building and I am super happy that it got a second lease of life that it so deserves.