Sunday, 18 May 2014

Visions of Battersea

Battersea has been much in my mind this week.  At work, the latest Survey of London volumes covering the architecture of the borough arrived and I spent an entertaining couple of hours yesterday truffling through, concentrating on Sir Walter St Johns School, industry by the river, railways, cinemas such as the Granada, Clapham Junction (scene of my cinematic education, especially when they were putting on double bills of action films and thrillers in the late 1970s) and Battersea Power Station.  These more recent volumes also include cultural references so we obviously have Pink Floyd (not sure if The Who are mentioned), Up the Junction and even the infamous 'Battersea Smell' originating from the Garton's Glucose factory, which I used to walk past on my way to school - long gone and since redeveloped.

There's a site here for Battersea in film.  The most famous film The Lavender Hill Mob was not actually filmed there, but a real obscurity called The Optimists of Nine Elms was - as schoolboys we saw the filming in Battersea High Street in the early Seventies - a friend of mine got me Peter Sellers' autograph (I've since mislaid it).  Nostalgia also brought up Battersea Funfair, which I was often taken to in the 1960s.  The industrial dereliction of the area was attractive to filmmakers and photographers during that period - the area is now much transformed with most riverside industry replaced by luxury apartment blocks such as Montevetro (not one of Richard Rogers' finest works).

All of this brings me to a walk I'm planning to do on Whistler (whose atmospheric Nocturnes feature views of Battersea Reach and the local smoke-shrouded industry such as Morgan's Crucibles) on Thursday 24th July starting at Chelsea Library at 6:00.  More details when available.

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