London’s Oldest Power Station Makes A Return

Lots Road in Chelsea, which houses 260 people, roars back to life as London's oldest power station. The structure is regarded as a cathedral of the industrial age and originally powered the London Underground, which in turn aided in the mobility and growth of the city. The red brick edifice, which had two enormous halls, four tall chimneys, and a frame composed of 6,000 tonnes of steel, was built in the first year of the Edwardian era.

It ran the subterranean network from 1905 to 1985, keeping the city running even during the Blitz, and used 700 tonnes of coal that was transported to the site by ship down the River Thames. Because industrial plants were frequently bombarded in this area of town, on the north bank of the river, they were either destroyed during the Blitz or demolished subsequently. Therefore, having such a building still intact and being able to use it is an achievement in this area. 

Once described as a "proto-modernist masterpiece" and now dubbed “Powerhouse”, it was revived on Thursday this week. 

A new apartment complex has been constructed inside the existing skin of the historic building in order to protect it and its two remaining chimneys (two were removed when it was closed).

The residences, designed by Sir Terry Farrell, are placed around a central atrium, and a market-stall-sized juice or coffee bar has been granted permission to be built at the foot of one of the chimneys. Original arched windows that once looked out over the lake are now individual balconies on the south-facing side.

There are 260 flats overall, including 61 affordable homes inside the power plant and two blocks on the property set aside for social housing for residents.

A 24-hour concierge service, a health and fitness centre with a spa, a 20-metre swimming pool, a gym, and a Residents Club Lounge are available as amenities. Homes start at £1,695,000 and have two to four bedrooms.

The developers from Hong Kong, CK Hutchison, invested time, effort, and money into preserving and bringing back to life this Grade II listed heritage building, according to Knight Frank partner Chris Jones, who is selling the project. Before the sales start this week, Jones tells H&P that ‘such repairs come with a high price tag.’

After Lots Road Power Station shut down in 2002, the developer CK Hutchison Holdings Limited purchased it and spent two decades planning its repair and renovation. The infrastructure group was founded by Hong Kong’s richest man Li Ka-Shing.