Up in Smoke: The Failed Dreams of Battersea Power Station

It was going to be a theme park. A museum of science and industry. A super-sized cinema complex. A home for the Cirque du Soleil. A new stadium for Chelsea football club. Michael Jackson wanted to buy it. All the while, for over 30 years the building stood empty and derelict, a monumental ruin. Yet behind the scenes there was always plenty going on. The building changed hands multiple times as developers staked their fortunes on it, and invariably lost. Now it seems that Battersea may finally be saved but even that is not without controversy.

Up in Smoke: The Failed Dreams of Battersea Power Station explores the power station’s history, from conception and construction, through use and obsolescence, into its long years of stagnation. Despite appearances, there was always drama behind the scenes at Battersea, as a parade of developers and architects fought to impose their grand visions on the building, and failed.

In this book, former workers, politicians, lords, architects, planners, entrepreneurs, urban explorers and makers of inflatable pigs tell the story of this brooding brick hulk. Ultimately, it’s a story about London and the city we would like it to be.

Hardback, 272pp, 51 black & white illustrations

The author

Peter Watts is a journalist who has worked in the UK national media since 1993, starting at the Sunday Times as a 17-year-old sportswriter. From 2005, he was the lead feature writer at Time Out. He writes about London and music, and his work has appeared in The Independent, The Independent on Sunday, The Times, The Observer, Uncut, Prospect and New Statesman. He blogs at www.greatwen.com.