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Battersea Power Station, London, England.
1762 Posts
The U.K. electrical grid was planned in the 1920s. Distribution voltages of 132kV were discussed. London needed more generating power as more electrical appliances were used. Battersea power station construction was started in the late 1920s. There were initial concerns about the effect of the sulphurous emissions from the chimneys spoiling buildings and affecting people's health adversely. The prevailing winds at Battersea were normally from the S.W so people and buildings located to the N E. were more likely to be affected. Gas scrubbing was initiated and the emissions of sulphur fumes were very much reduced. If the chimney emissions were coloured white, then this indicated that scrubbing was taking place. A grey smoke meant that the scrubbing had stopped. 

A quote from the British Housewives' Association said that the proposed new power station with its smoke emissions "Seemed quite anomalous in that the body set up to provide a "smokeless form of heat energy" should itself lead to pollution on an unprecedented scale.""


9 Replies
1762 Posts
Battersea power station used to be a producer, now the new proposed area use concentrates on consumption. But the architecture is impressive.


110 Posts
My nephew works there, sorry!

ANYWAYS, as an apprentice sparks... I used to go the Wandsworth Tech, (now known as 'Thames College'... I fink??), and one day, circa 1967-ish, we all went on a trip inside Battersea Power Station... very impressive it was too... OK, back to what you lot was doing, haha!

153 Posts
Before the grid, local electricity supplies were of different voltages, like the first train lines of different widths. Jackie Brown, a lecturer told us of some hairy experiences during that period -  distribution lines were not interconnected and overheating etc. The first local supplies to housing etc. were DC; an offshoot from local generating plants for private industry. Not so far in the past, but look at the progress. The history is fascinating, it took years literally to find out why equipment designed for DC was overheating on AC, and the development of laminations. Pioneering indeed.

John Peckham
471 Posts
I went there on a trip when I was an apprentice. I remember looking inside the furnace burning coal and was very impressed by the extreme heat and intense light. Many years later I had an office directly opposite the then dead power station. 
364 Posts
Before the grid, local electricity supplies were of different voltages

And frequencies which was possibly a bigger hurdle to overcome when you consider to amount of motors fairly recently installed to replace shafting or steam..........


2940 Posts
or, in Birmingham, compressed air from the compressed air works running the "steam" engines. 😉

Andy B.
Kelly Marie
293 Posts
When I was little I often stayed with my aunt and uncle who lived in flats in Battersea  and from the lounge window I could clearly see the powerstation chimneys I remember seeing the smoke billowing from the chimneys. I know my mum and uncle both pointed the station out to me every time I visited them
Chris Pearson
1664 Posts
I once went to a wedding celebration at the power station - v. impressive.

As a student, I attended a party in Battersea with my brother. His chums had a "hard to let" council flat. How things change!
694 Posts
When I was an apprentice electrician, we had one lad in the college who was an NCB electrical apprentice and worked in a coal mine.

Having been to London to a gig, met a girl and fallen in love (again) he actually asked his mine manager if he could get a transfer to that mine in London. He'd seen the coaling yards and jetty and thought they were digging the bloody stuff up rather than burning it in Battersea

Nice lad, bit dim - went on to be the area manager of a large multi pit coal mining operation in China, on the back of an EU education grant when we shut down the South Wales collieries





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