Monthly Archives: January 2014

The Post Office Central Power Station

barge house street

Another door, this time on Barge House Street, in the outer wall of what is now the Oxo Tower complex.

The Royal coat of arms above the door is because prior to being a cold store for the company that made Oxo, the building had been a power station for the Post Office.

From looking at the old maps of the area, we can see the power station was built after 1896. (The map images below are from 1896 and 1919)

According to the Wikipedia entry, much of the power station was demolished in 1928 and the building rebuilt in Art Deco style by Albert Moore, although the river-facing facade was retained. Obviously the Barge House Street facade was also left relatively unchanged.

Reginald Warneford – first destroyer of a Zeppelin

IMG_0113-225x300In Brompton Cemetery stands this wonderful monument to Reginald Warneford, the first man to destroy a Zeppelin in combat, over Belgium on 7 June 1915. He didn’t shoot it down, but dropped bombs on it – the resulting explosion almost killing him in the process.


Warneford’s own account provides lots of colour:


I left Furnes at 1:00 am on 7th June 1915 … under orders to look for Zeppelins and attack the Berchem St Agathe Airship Shed with six 20lb bombs.


On arriving at Dixmude at 1:15 am, I observed a Zeppelin … and proceeded in chase… I arrived at close quarters a few miles past Bruges at 1:50 am and the Airship opened heavy maxim fire, so I retreated to gain height and the Airship turned and followed me. At 2:15 am it stopped firing and 2:25 am I came behind, but well above the Zeppelin; height then 11,000 feet, and switched off my engine to descend on top of him. When close above him at 7,000 feet I dropped my bombs, and … there was an explosion which lifted my machine and turned it over. The aeroplane was out of control for a short period, went into a nose dive, but control was regained. I then saw the Zeppelin was on the ground in flames.”

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Edwin Evans and Battersea Rise

IMG_0290-150x150The closing of a small estate agent’s office in South West London is hardly big news (some might even raise a cheer), but the closure of the Edwin Evans office on Lavender Hill marks a break with a significant piece of Battersea history. 
Because it was the original (Sir) Edwin Evans who bought, demolished and developed Battersea Rise House and its 22 acres of land on the north west corner of Clapham Common. His consortium paid £51,000 for the whole plot and parcelled off lots for development, with 475 houses being built on the land between 1908 and 1915.
 
Battersea Rise House from the Common, about 1900

Battersea Rise House dated from the early 18th century, but it came to prominence from 1792 when Henry Thornton, a wealthy banker, bought it and moved in with his cousin William Wilberforce. 

Two of Thornton’s brothers owned villas on Clapham Common Southside and Thornton’s aim in buying Battersea Rise House and the land surrounding it was to create a community of like-minded (and high-minded) friends. Two substantial houses, Glenelg and Broomfield were built in the grounds, with Wilberforce moving into Broomfield House when he married in 1797.

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