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"Use every man after his desert, and who should 'scape whipping?"

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Nine Elms Disease spreads west: the demolition of Battersea Power Station's chimneys

A strange slow motion spectacle is unfolding three hundred feet above the terraced slums and industrial wastelands of Battersea, south west London.

The developers of the new riverside ghetto of luxury apartments and embassies is, as promised, carefully dismantling the first of the four cast-concrete legs of the Giles Gilbert Scott's upside-down kitchen table.

There's a strange green cage around the top of the chimney, and it is gradually sinking, maybe only a few feet each day.

Apparently the people responsible for all this - Battersea Power Station Development Company (BPSDC) - are going to replace the chimneys with replicas, "using the same techniques and materials". Looking forward to seeing these going up - but somehow can't imagine that the sight of the power station will ever again be the same. 

Like so much of the rest of London now, the rough edges, the decay, the patina of decades, the ingrained dirt, the cracks and the weeds - all that will be gone. Nine Elms disease, unlike most natural blights - does not leave scars and blemishes - it does the reverse, it abolishes them, leaving just a bland Hollywood style film-lot.

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