The initial designs for the Battersea Power Station in the 1920s were criticised as being too ugly for a structure within the capital. Sir Giles Gilbert Scott was brought in to reconsider the external fabric design of the building. The coal fired power station went online in 1933 and was until the 1950s the largest power station in the UK. 900,000 tonnes of coal per were brought upstream daily, by low profile boats that could get under the bridges, to the purpose built dock to feed the generators furnaces. 1.5 million cubic metres of water were taken from the Thames for cooling purposes. The water, once cooled, was returned to the Thames. Heated water was also used to power central heat houses in Pimlico across the Thames.
In 1953 the Art Deco styled power station was expanded and the B generator added. It became the largest brick built structure in Europe. The original Power Station A control room had been fitted out with marble and parquet flooring. Being post war, Station B was not so well fitted out. The addition of two further chimneys (all 103m high) and gave it the symmetry we see today. At its capacity the station could generate 503 Megawatts of power. A fire within the power station in 1964 caused the launch of BBC2 to be delayed by a day. Gilbert Scott would go on to design the power station further down stream at Bankside.
By 1983 the station ceased to generate electricity and the site sold. Plans have been subject to much speculation as to what to convert the listed structure and surrounding land into? Spiralling costs of proposals and economic slumps have resulted in the land changing ownership several times since the 1980s. Work is underway to create retail, residential and public spaces. The Thames Path will run riverside in front of the former electricity station.
An extension of the Northern Underground line is proposed to run from Kennington to Nine Elms and Battersea.