Battersea Power Station’s four iconic chimneys have now been completely rebuilt, as part of the restoration programme that will see the Grade II* listed building brought back into use after more than 30 years.
Since the rebuilding began on May 14th 2015, nearly 25,000 wheelbarrow loads of concrete have been hand-poured into special “jump form” shutters to recreate the chimneys which each stand 51 metres above the building. Rather than use hoses to pour the concrete, it was decided to replicate the original construction methods: some 680 tonnes of concrete have been lifted in hoists, transferred into wheelbarrows and then poured into the structures.
The rings that can be seen around the new chimneys, and could also be seen around the originals, are a result of the “jump form” method in which shutters are erected at the top of the growing chimney. They are then filled with concrete which is allowed to dry before the shutters move up again to create the next layer. In modern buildings the shutters would typically move up continuously to create a smooth exterior, but this technique was not in use when the Power Station was built. Overall, the hoists have travelled the equivalent of 21 miles, lifting concrete to the workers waiting on boards high above the ground.
The original chimneys – two were built in the 1930s and the second pair in the 1950s – had to be taken down: they had become dangerously unstable as a result of their many years of funnelling corrosive gases, and in part because salty Thames water was used to mix their concrete.
The dismantling and rebuilding of the chimneys, which was especially difficult due to the need to preserve the building beneath and the special methods which had to be used, won a prestigious award at the London Civil Engineering Awards last month.
The northeast and southwest chimneys will return to service as exhaust stacks, albeit much cleaner ones than in the old days: they will release the water vapour generated by the new clean, green Energy Centres which will provide heat, cooling and electricity to the new Battersea Power Station and potentially other buildings in the neighbourhood as well.
The northwest chimney is the last to be finished.
Rob Tincknell, CEO of the Battersea Power Station Development Company, said “Battersea Power Station’s chimneys have been the backdrop for films, music videos and album covers and really are world famous. On behalf of our shareholders, I would like to say it has been an honour to restore this iconic symbol to the London skyline so that it can be enjoyed by generations to come.”
The Malaysian shareholders of the Battersea Power Station project are committed to giving back to the communities in which they operate. They recognise the importance of creating shared value and this is embedded in all their undertakings to ensure that they contribute towards a harmonious and considerate community.