Battersea Power Station Development Company is pleased to announce that the first of the four chimneys has risen again in line with the rebuild programme. The first publically visible sections of the South West chimney were unveiled in the presence of Historic England and London Borough of Wandsworth (“LBW”), who have consulted on this unique project from the beginning and are in full support of the works to reinstate these cultural icons.
Rob Tincknell, Chief Executive Officer at Battersea Power Station Development Company, said “This is one of the most exciting milestones in the Battersea Power Station development’s history to date. The chimneys are at the very heart of this site and the rebuild programme has been focused on working with Historic England and LBW to ensure they would be rebuilt and remain a part of London’s skyline in a safe condition for generations to enjoy for years to come.”
The Battersea Power Station chimneys have formed part of the London skyline since 1935 when the first chimney was completed, designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott. Even from their early days these imposing chimneys embedded themselves into London’s history. In 1940, RAF pilots use the plumes of the white vapour to guide them home during the Second World War and the Luftwaffe would also use the plumes for navigation which explains why the Power Station avoided extensive bombing in this period. By the seventies the chimneys had become more of a cultural icon across the world and were most famously featured on the front cover of Pink Floyd’s 1977 album, Animals, where an inflatable pig was tethered to one of the southern chimneys but famously broke loose and landed on the coast of Kent. Other musicians featuring the chimneys on their artwork include Morrissey, The Who and The Jam.
Since then, the extraordinary structures towering at 101m from the ground have appeared in print, on film, fabric and canvas and have made the impactful backdrop for high profile parties, photoshoots, events and movies. Highlights over the years have included Red Bull X-Fighters event, couture fashion shoots, ‘Batman’ and ‘The King’s Speech’ filming on site and Elton John performing under the chimneys in an exclusive event last year. The chimneys in their own right have become a global brand and are now widely found featured on merchandising internationally from cufflinks to Converse shoes.
This first unveiling of the South West chimney marks a key step in the full rebuild programme which will be completed in the summer of 2016. The whole process has been undertaken by a group of specialist contractors including construction managers Skanska, expert heritage building consultants Beroa Bierrum and Buro Happold Engineering who have been working using the same methods to the original chimney build from back in the 1930s to ensure the new chimneys are rebuilt to be visually identical to the originals.
Timothy Jones, Principal Inspector of Historic Buildings and Areas, Historic England, said “Historic England considers the works being carried out to the chimneys to be the most tangible sign that the long awaited restoration of this internationally celebrated Grade II* building is no longer a promise but a fact. Historic England have worked in close partnership with all those involved in this major project and are delighted at the progress which has been made and the meticulous attention to detail which has been paid at every stage. It is very exciting news that once all the chimneys have been rebuilt they will be painted to match their original colours, just as Sir Giles Gilbert Scott would have wished.”
Councillor Ravi Govindia, Leader, London Borough of Wandsworth, said “This is indeed a momentous day in the history of Battersea and highlights the unswerving commitment shown by everyone involved in this project to ensure that these magnificent chimneys would be protected for future generations of Londoners. This has been a complex engineering project and its success ensures that the power station’s unique contribution to London’s skyline will live on long into the future.”
Find out more at: www.batterseapowerstation.co.uk/chimneys