January 25, 2023
We had tickets to go up Lift 109 at Battersea Power Station today, but looking out the hotel window didn’t portend great views; it’s cloudy with some fog and a forecast of light rain this afternoon. We had beautiful weather these last few days, so it figures the day we want to get high overlooks of the city, it socks in.
From Marble Arch, after one line change, we ride the Northern Line all the way to the end of the line to Battersea Power Station.
Battersea was the site of an enormous power station, situated on the banks of the Thames, that once supplied 20% of the city’s electricity. Shut down in the 1983, it fell into disuse until purchased by property developers. Work began in 2012 (!) to develop the large site, protected by the UK’s awarding of listed status, into urban use. The first phase opened in 2017.
The Battersea Underground is a new (September 2021) and developing station with room for a lot of future retail. Suiting it’s surroundings, Battersea park is full of new apartments and office buildings and the sky has construction cranes everywhere. Property is never cheap in London, even this far out, where a 3 bedroom, 3 bath residence with 2600 sq ft has an asking price of £8.45m ($10.476m at current exchange rates), or you can downgrade to 2 bedrooms, 2 baths (937 sq ft) for £1.45m ( $1.8m).
We found our way into the massive structure and eventually to the area for entrance to Lift 109 (opened in November 2022), so called because it’s 109 meters (358’) high. Unfortunately, because of the weather, they were offering to let you come back later today (weather is not getting any better based on the forecast) or “later, later” with an open ticket. So we opted for the open ticket since we’ll be returning to London in May, 2023; no refunds.
The transformation of such a massive old industrial structure into multi use urban space had to be a massive architectural and engineering challenge – preserving the outward appearance as a listed structure, while turning it into a commercial/retail/residential space.
There’s already a lot of retail in place, mostly on the ground level, but also up on the second level, with much more space yet to be occupied. Obviously disappointed, but we had another option for the afternoon once we retraced some of our route – Borough Market.
We visited Borough Market last year in October. You’ll see it on the map at the top of this post on the same side of the river, to the right of where you see Shakespeare’s Globe market (so we’re on the anything goes (side of the Thames 😉). We exited the Tube at the London Bridge station and Borough Market was directly across the street. Borough Market is a wholesale and retail food market, situated under a rail overpass; you can hear and see the trains rumble by overhead as you explore the market. It is one of the largest and oldest food markets in London, with a market on the site dating back to at least the 12th century. The present buildings were built in the 1850s, though it claims a much older history, and today the market mainly sells specialty foods to the general public.
Even though it’s a covered market, there are some pubs and other restaurants spilling out onto the surrounding streets. It’s not as crowded today as when we visited last year, due both to the fact it was lunchtime when we came then and it’s somewhat cooler. There are still plenty of food specialists with small stalls and shops, selling everything from fresh fish and seafood to fresh fruit & veg, wine, cheese, meat and prepared dishes, like our paella (the pan must have been 4’ across).
Our serving wasn’t quite that big..
We continued exploring the market and found one shop we were looking for. Humble Crumble. Humble Crumble serves up fruit crumbles, topped with warm vanilla sauce. The line was long and we hoped the wait would be worth it.
Much of the food at Borough Market is ready to eat, but there are few places to sit or tables, but there was an area near “Humble” that was stadium like seating. We found a spot at the bottom to sit while we ate and soon enough, the apple crumble was gone. The wait was worth it.
From Borough Market, we took the two Underground lines needed to make our way back to the Marble Arch area. It wasn’t the day we’d planned, but interesting nonetheless.