Work began on the power station in 1929 and was designed by the architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott. By 1935 the first turbine hall A was completed and put into operation. Work on a second turbine hall was halted because of the Second World War. RAF pilots used the smoke from the chimneys to guide them home, as did the Luftwaffe to bomb London. In 1955, the second turbine hall B was completed. In 1980 the Art Deco building was awarded Grade II listed status, but sadly in 1983 the power station ceased to generate electricity and was decommissioned. It lay idle for many years while various investors looked at it but decided against it. Finally, in 2012, Malaysian property investors bought it to create a new community of homes, shops, cafes, restaurants, cultural venues and open space for London.
Many of the high-rise flats, which have been built around the power station, with rents of up to £5,000 per month, overlook the Thames, others overlook the adjacent railway lines and many overlook the rooftops of South London. There are offices in the complex too, but can only obviously be accessed by those who work there. The shops inside the actual power station are not the usual High Street chains, but upmarket ones like Cartier, Rolex, Apple, Chanel, Lego, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein and too many many more to mention. There is even a Polestar car showroom. The shops are arranged on three levels around what was the original two turbine halls and the bit in the middle is where the boiler hall would have been. There is a food arcade on one of the levels with very many different world cuisines on offer, as well as street food outside on the riverbank.
I rather liked the juxtaposition of the old Art Deco brick building with modern steel and glass.
The most exciting bit of all is Lift 109 which is a lift that ascends one of the tall chimneys and gives the most amazing 360 degree views of London. It is pricey at £23 per person but well worth the information display beforehand and then the views from the top. We stayed up there for 8 minutes before the lift descended giving ample opportunity to pick out landmarks and take photos.
|the lift inside the chimney