A work in progress...
Learn a little bit more about Control Room B and how it came to *cough* be!
WHAT IS BATTERSEA POWER STATION?
Battersea Power Station is a decommissioned Grade II* listed coal-fired power station, located on the south bank of the River Thames, in Nine Elms, Battersea, in the London Borough of Wandsworth. It was built by the London Power Company (LPC) to the design of Leonard Pearce, Engineer in Chief to the LPC, and CS Allott & Son Engineers. The architects were J. Theo Halliday and Giles Gilbert Scott. The station is one of the world’s largest brick buildings and notable for its original, Art Deco interior fittings and decor.
At its peak, Battersea Power Station produced a fifth of London’s power, supplying electricity to some of London’s most recognisable landmarks, such as the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace. Working in tandem with Control Room A, Control Room B managed the distribution of power generated by the Power Station’s turbines. Functionally Control Room B can be divided into two sets of controls. The control desk and freestanding controls synchronised the 66kV output of the station to match the standards of the grid, while the switchgear racks at the rear of the room controlled the power supplies to a range of auxiliary equipment across the power station.
WHAT IS TURBINE HALL B?
The building comprises two power stations, built in two stages, in a single building. Battersea A Power Station (pictured) was built between 1929 and 1935 and Battersea B Power Station, to its east, between 1937 and 1941, when construction was paused owing to the worsening effects of the Second World War. The building was completed in 1955. “Battersea B” was built to a design nearly identical to that of “Battersea A”, creating the iconic four-chimney structure.
Turbine Hall B contained the generators which took steam, heated from burning the coal, to mechanical energy and then, in turn AC electricity.
Did you know...
Battesea Power Station was used for guidance during World War 2?
Around 1940, the RAF pilots used white vapor plumes emanating from the chimneys to give them a direction towards home in the fog weather. The Luftwaffe took advantage of the plumes to navigate as well, which expounds the reasons behind the station to avert excessive bombing.
WHAT IS CONTROL ROOM B?
Control Room B opens directly onto Turbine Hall B, in contrast to the 1930s Control Room A which was a separate room – this maybe evidence of developments in the management methods at that time. As it was built after the Second World War, it is more brutalist in design. It has faience tiling throughout and retains its original human scale stainless-steel control panels arranged in an arc. The original control room fittings, desks and switchgear complex are defining features of the space and have been fully restored as part of the wider regeneration of Battersea Power Station.
Functionally Control Room B can be divided into two sets of controls. The control desk and freestanding controls synchronised the 66kV output of the station to match the standards of the grid, while the switchgear racks at the rear of the room controlled the power supplies to a range of auxiliary equipment across the power station.
Did you know...
about Battersea Power Station’s accidental Rockstar Behaviour?
In 1977, a flying pink pig moving between both chimneys appeared on the front cover of Pink Floyd’s album Animals. The gigantic inflatable swine was harnessed to a section of the vents; however, it lost its anchorages and moved into Heathrow Airport’s flight path. Police helicopters monitored its way until it landed off Kent’s coastal region.
The 1977 album of experimental rock band Hawkwind, titled “Quark, Strangeness and Charm”, features a stunning photo of Control Room B synchroscope and control panels overlayed with lasers and lightning!
THE CONTROL DESKS
The shiny stainless steel equipment arched around the our bar. Found immediately behind the protective glass screen.
This is the dashboard from where the engineers can manage and adjust the flow of power to South West London. Regulating the flow is important to ‘balance’ the National Grid. The network transfers electricity at high voltage over long distances. Then, local distribution companies transport energy at lower voltages over a shorter distance to homes and businesses.
The balance is to ensure that energy into the grid is precisely the same as that being used at the time. Especially in the earlier years of the power station, there was no way to store electricity (i.e. battery tech) which lead to a challenge for power stations to create more energy at peak time… the morning at the point people wake up an put on the kettle for a cuppa, and the evenings when TVs are on and more lighting is in use.
The taller black boards with switches and fuses. Found behind the control desk towards the back of the room.
In an electric power system, switchgear is composed of electrical disconnect switches, fuses or circuit breakers used to control, protect and isolate electrical equipment. Switchgear is used both to de-energize equipment to allow work to be done and to clear faults downstream. This type of equipment is directly linked to the reliability of the electricity supply.
The two tall totems with octagonal displays. Found just inside the the glass protective screens.
In AC electrical power systems, a synchroscope is a device that indicates the degree to which two systems (generators or power networks) are synchronised with each other.
Alternating current (AC) is an electric current which periodically reverses direction and changes its magnitude continuously with time in contrast to direct current (DC) which flows only in one direction.
Because of its alternating nature (best imagined as a wave) to add electricity to the grid effectively the phase sequence, voltage magnitude, frequency and phase angle all must be aligned.
Did you know… the head of the synchroscope displays can be turned around. Allowing the engineers to view the display from different angles in the space.
Did you know… if the power station was not connected in synchronisation with the national grid then there was a risk that the turbine could turn into a giant motor – potentially damaging the generator, or even causing an explosion!
Did we get that right?
Do you have a correction? Do you have an interesting stories about Control Room B? Perhaps you know someone who used to work here?
We’d love to hear from you. Email email@example.com