Greenwich Power Station

Greenwich Power Station from the gardens of Trinity Almshouses

Ok – so hands up everyone who thought it was dead? A great monolith to the Victorian age of steam, its forbidding, satanic walls defiant to the world, gothic windows reaching to the top of its cathedral-like roof, the long-since redundant pier reaching into a river that has no further use for it, the peeling white paint along a wall that seems to reach to heaven and which must have really cheesed off the delightful little 17th century almshouse residents next door when it was built on their orchard…

I certainly did. The beautiful Victorian industrial brickwork, the curious little built-in cottage with the high turret, the great chimneys worthy of any Pink Floyd album cover – I really thought they had gone forever, leaving the site wide open for some horrid development of luxury flats or some ghastly covered shopping mall. I even blamed its demise when I got stuck in that gigantic tube gridlock a couple of years ago where I managed to miss a party where I could have made a serious impression and instead ended up in a bus queue that snaked round the entire Isle of Dogs. Not that it was all bad. I had nursed secret dreams of using that pier for a splendid public pier of the Brighton variety – and I still think it would make an fun project.

But here’s the good news. Greenwich Power Station still is exactly that – a working power station. I was wandering along the back road to the auction when I saw a security man having a fag, and cheerily asked him what it was going to be used for. He looked surprised, then laughed

“A lot of people think it’s not working any more. But it is. National Grid during the day, Underground at peak times. The engines start up at 4.30.”

Well – there you go. Out of interest, the funny littel turret appears to be totally unoccupied and according to the security man is locked up and secret. Now there’s the makings of an Enid Blyton adventure…

3 Comments to “Greenwich Power Station”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I had the pleasure of a trip round the site a year ago, it is a site with architecture worthy of preservation and huge spaces, a testiment to days gone bye, when even little insignificant details were as important as the major architecture

  2. Jessica says:

    Hi there,

    Saw this bit of writing you did on the Greenwich Power Station. We just moved into a flat near to it and was wondering just how often and long it is running and outputting power. Daily for a prolonged amount of time? Because all references seem to say that it is only on a standby mode. Also what are those big cylindrical drums in the back near the water?

    Just wondering!



  3. I could be wrong here, but the impression I’m under is that it’s backup for the underground, and that it gets fired up every so often to check it’s all working. But I’m rather hoping Peter, who’s been inside, is on hand to confirm or deny that – and to tell you what the drums are.