World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article


Battersea is located in Greater London
 Battersea shown within Greater London
OS grid reference
London borough Wandsworth
Ceremonial county Greater London
Region London
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town LONDON
Postcode district SW11 SW8
Dialling code 020
Police Metropolitan
Fire London
Ambulance London
EU Parliament London
UK Parliament Battersea
London Assembly Merton and Wandsworth
List of places

Battersea is a largely residential inner-city district of south London in the London Borough of Wandsworth, England. It has Battersea Park, one of southwest London's main parks and is on the south side of the River Thames, 2.9 miles (4.8 km) south-west of Charing Cross.

Noted for the long-awaited bringing of the London Underground in the 21st century, two main railway lines cross here at what was the country's busiest station. In all directions along these lines are several of the borough's council estates which replaced some of the severely overcrowded housing serving its former Power Station, its locomotive, carriage and heavy industrial works, with interpretations and variants ranging from brutalist to spacious garden courtyards. Elsewhere in Battersea are a growing proportion of private architecturally-acclaimed riverside, parkside and typical London homes. In 2001, Battersea had a population of 75,651 people. Landmarks include New Covent Garden Market and the Royal Academy of Dance. Wandsworth Common and Clapham Common border parts of this large district, which traditionally also includes Nine Elms. Railway stations in Battersea are in fare zone 2.


  • History 1
    • Agriculture 1.1
    • Industry 1.2
    • Railway age 1.3
    • Housing estates 1.4
  • Governance 2
  • Geography 3
    • Nearby places 3.1
  • Crime 4
  • Landmarks 5
  • Transport 6
    • Railway stations 6.1
    • Proposed stations on the London Underground 6.2
    • Former railway stations 6.3
  • In popular culture 7
  • Notable people 8
  • See also 9
  • References 10
  • Further reading 11
  • External links 12


Historically a part of Surrey, Battersea was centred on a church established on an island at the mouth of the Falconbrook; a small river that rises in Tooting Bec Common and flowed underground through south London to the River Thames.[1] The site of the original nucleus is marked by St. Mary's Church. William Blake was married, and Benedict Arnold and his wife and daughter are buried in the crypt of the church. Battersea is mentioned in Anglo-Saxon time as Badrices īeg = "Badric's Island" and later "Patrisey". As with many former parishes beside major rivers some land was reclaimed by draining marshland and building culverts for streams. It had a few hundred acres in a detached part, beyond Dulwich, Penge, now generally known as Crystal Palace, for:

The borough dates from the London Government Act of 1899, and includes the greater part of the original ecclesiastical parish of St. Mary Battersea. Under the same Act Penge, formerly a hamlet of Battersea, was constituted a separate urban district...the curious anomalies of [Battersea's] local government led to its formation as a separate urban district and its transfer to the county of Kent in 1900. Penge was a wooded district, over which the tenants of Battersea Manor had common of pasture.[2]

The settlement appears in the Domesday Book as Patricesy, held by St Peter's Abbey, Westminster. Its Domesday Assets were: 18 hides and 17 ploughlands of cultivated land; 7 mills worth £42 9s 8d per year, 82 acres (33 ha) of meadow, woodland worth 50 hogs. It rendered (in total): £75 9s 8d.[3]


Before the Industrial Revolution, much of the large parish was farmland, providing food for the City of London and surrounding population centres; and with particular specialisms, such as growing lavender on Lavender Hill (nowadays denoted by the road of the same name), asparagus (sold as "Battersea Bundles") or pig breeding on Pig Hill (later the site of the Shaftesbury Park Estate). At the end of the 18th century, above 300 acres (1.2 km2) of land in the parish of Battersea were occupied by some 20 market gardeners, who rented from five to near 60 acres (240,000 m2) each.[4] Villages in the wider area: Wandsworth, Earlsfield (hamlet of Garratt), Tooting, Balham - were separated by fields; in common with other suburbs the wealthy of London and the traditional manor successors built their homes in Battersea and neighbouring areas.[5]


Industry in the area was concentrated to the north west just outside the Battersea-Wandsworth boundary, at the confluence of the River Thames, and the River Wandle which gave rise to the village of Wandsworth. This was settled from the 16th century by Protestant craftsmen - Huguenots - fleeing religious persecution in Europe, who planted lavender and gardens and established a range of industries such as mills, breweries and dyeing, bleaching and calico printing.[5] Industry developed eastwards along the bank of the Thames during the industrial revolution from 1750s onwards; the Thames provided water for transport, for steam engines and for water-intensive industrial processes. Bridges erected across the Thames encouraged growth; Putney Bridge, a mile to the west, was built in 1729, and Battersea Bridge in the centre of the north boundary in 1771. Inland from the river, the rural agricultural community persisted.[5]

Along the Thames, a number of large and, in their field, pre-eminent firms grew; notably the Morgan Crucible Company); Chemical works; Saltpetre works; Foundry. Between these were numerous wharfs for shipping.

In 1929, construction started on Battersea Power Station, being completed in 1939. From the late 18th century to comparatively recent times Battersea, and certainly north Battersea, was established as an industrial area with all of the issues associated with pollution and poor housing affecting it.

Industry declined and moved away from the area in the 1970s, and local government sought to address chronic post-war housing problems with large scale clearances and the establishment of planned housing. Some decades after the end of large scale local industry, resurgent demand among magnates and high income earners for parkside and riverside property close to planned Underground links has led to significant construction. Factories have been demolished and replaced with modern apartment buildings. Some of the council owned properties have been sold off and several traditional working men's pubs have become more fashionable bistros. Battersea neighbourhoods close to the railway have some of the most deprived local authority housing in the Borough of Wandsworth. An area which saw condemned slums after their erection in the Victoria era.[6]

Railway age

Aftermath of a V-2 bombing at Battersea, 27 January 1945.

Battersea was radically altered by the coming of railways. The London and Southampton Railway Company engineered their railway line from east to west through Battersea, in 1838, terminating at the original Nine Elms railway station at the north west tip of the area. Over the next 22 years five other lines were built, across which all trains from London's Waterloo and Victoria termini would as today travel. An interchange station was built in 1863 towards the north west of the area, at a junction of the railway. Taking the name of a fashionable village a mile and more away, the station was named 'Clapham Junction': a campaign to rename it "Battersea Junction" fizzled out as late as the early twentieth century. During the latter decades of the nineteenth century Battersea had developed into a major town railway centre with two locomotive works at Nine Elms and Longhedge and three important motive power depots (Nine Elms, Stewarts Lane and Battersea) all situated within a relatively small area in the north of the district. The effect was precipitate: a population of 6,000 people in 1840 was increased to 168,000 by 1910; and save for the green spaces of Battersea Park, Clapham Common, Wandsworth Common and some smaller isolated pockets, all other farmland was built over, with, from north to south, industrial buildings and vast railway sheds and sidings (much of which remain), slum housing for workers, especially north of the main east–west railway, and gradually more genteel residential terraced housing further south.

The railway station encouraged the government to site its buildings in the area surrounding Clapham Junction, where a cluster of new civic buildings including the town hall, library, police station, court and post office was developed along Lavender Hill in the 1880s and 1890s. The Arding and Hobbs department store, diagonally opposite the station, was the largest of its type at the time of its construction in 1885; and the streets near the station developed as a regional shopping district. The area was served by a vast music hall - The Grand - opposite the station (nowadays serving as a nightclub and venue for smaller bands) as well as a large theatre next to the Town Hall (the Shakespeare Theatre, later redeveloped following bomb damage). All this building around the station shifted the focus of the area southwards, and marginalised Battersea High Street (the main street of the original village) into no more than an extension of Falcon Road.

Housing estates

Doddington and Rollo Estate.

Battersea has a large area of mid-20th century public housing estates, almost all located north of the main railway lines and spanning from Fairfield in the west to Queenstown in the east.[7]

There are four particularly large estates. The Winstanley Estate, perhaps being the most renowned of them all, is known as being the birthplace to the garage collective So Solid Crew.[8] Winstanley is close to Clapham Junction railway station in the northern perimeter of Battersea, and is currently being considered for comprehensive redevelopment as one of the London Mayor's new Housing Zones.[9] Further north towards Chelsea is the Surrey Lane Estate, and on Battersea Park Road is the Doddington and Rollo Estate. East, toward Vauxhall, is the Patmore Estate which is in close proximity to the Battersea Power Station.

Other smaller estates include York Road, Somerset, Savona, Badric Court, the Peabody Estate, Ethelburga Estate and Carey Gardens.


Arms granted to the Metropolitan Borough of Battersea in 1955

The tradition of local government in England was based on the Parish. Population growth in London during the 19th century demanded new arrangements, and the Metropolitan Borough of Battersea was created in 1899, with the boundaries described above. It was in 1965 combined with the neighbouring Metropolitan Borough of Wandsworth to form the London Borough of Wandsworth. The former Battersea Town Hall, opened in 1893, is now the Battersea Arts Centre.

In the period from 1880 onwards, Battersea was known as a centre of radical politics in the United Kingdom. socialist political party, in the borough and after the turmoil of dock strikes affecting the populace of north Battersea, was elected to represent the borough in the newly formed London County Council. In 1892, he expanded his role, being elected to Parliament for Battersea North as one of the first Independent Labour Party member of Parliament.

Battersea's radical reputation gave rise to the Brown Dog affair, when in 1904 the National Anti-Vivisection Society sought permission to erect a drinking fountain celebrating the life of a dog killed by vivisection. The fountain, forming a plinth for the statue of a brown dog, was installed near in the Latchmere Recreational Grounds, became a cause célèbre, fought over in riots and battles between medical students and the local populace until its removal in 1910.

The borough elected the first black mayor[10] in 1913 when John Archer took office, and in 1922 elected the Bombay-born Communist Party member Shapurji Saklatvala as MP for Battersea; one of only two communist members of Parliament.[10]

The Member of Parliament for the Battersea constituency since 6 May 2010 has been the Conservative Jane Ellison.

In 2009, it was announced that a new US embassy would be constructed at Nine Elms. This development would also see the building of luxury apartments in the area.


Battersea is part of London on the south bank of the River Thames. A cross between a square and a triangle in shape,[2] its northern boundary is the Thames, as it runs first north-east, and then east, before turning north again to pass Westminster. Its north eastern corner is one mile (1.6 km) due south of the Palace of Westminster; the north western corner is demarcated by Wandsworth Bridge and Battersea tapers south to a point roughly three miles (5 km) from the north eastern corner and two miles (3 km) from the north west. To the east is Lambeth; on the south are Camberwell and Streatham, on the south-east is Clapham and on the west Wandsworth.

Nearby places


Many parts of Battersea, particularly in the north, have been well known as hotspots for drug dealing. The Winstanley and York Road council estates have developed a reputation for drug related offences, and were made part of a zero-tolerance "drug exclusion zone" in 2007.[11]


Battersea Dogs home (with gasworks alongside)
Clapham Junction station, Battersea
Large Asda supermarket next to and visible from Clapham Junction Railway Station
London Heliport, Battersea

Within the bounds of modern Battersea are (from east to west):


A British Rail blue locomotive 13 March 1982 at Clapham Junction, being one of the British Rail Class 73 electro-diesels.

Railway stations

Proposed stations on the London Underground

Former railway stations

In popular culture

Battersea features in the books of Michael de Larrabeiti, who was brought up in the area: A Rose Beyond the Thames recounts the working-class Battersea of the 1940s and 1950s; The Borrible Trilogy presents a fictional Battersea, home to the Borribles. Battersea is also the setting for Penelope Fitzgerald's 1979 Booker Prize-winning novel, Offshore.

Michael Flanders, half of the 60's comedy Flanders and Swann often made public fun at Donald Swann for living in Battersea.

Nell Dunn's 1963 novel Up the Junction (later adapted for both television and cinema) depicts contemporary life in the industrial slums of Battersea near Clapham Junction.

Morrissey mentions Battersea in his song "You're the One for Me, Fatty".

Babyshambles recorded the song "Bollywood to Battersea" for 2005's charity album .

Notable people

The following people have lived, or currently live, in Battersea:

See also


  1. ^ London Under London: A subterranean guide: Richard Trench and Ellis Hillman: ISBN 0-7195-5288-5
  2. ^ a b Map Victoria County History, London, H.E. Malden (Ed), 1911
  3. ^ for SurreyDomesday Book
  4. ^ 'Battersea', The Environs of London: volume 1: County of Surrey (1792), pp. 26-48.
  5. ^ a b c [H.E. Malden (editor) (1912). "Parishes: Battersea with Penge". A History of the County of Surrey: Volume 4. Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 4 November 2014. 
  6. ^ Booth's Poverty Map London School of Economics archive. Retrieved 4 November 2014
  7. ^ Battersea Profile, from Wandsworth Primary Care Trust, citing Census 2001
  8. ^ Mark Blunden (20 February 2014). "London housing estate where So Solid Crew formed set for demolition". London Evening Standard. 
  9. ^ Mayor names London's first Housing Zones - Clapham Junction to Battersea Riverside zone
  10. ^ a b c Chris Roberts, Heavy Words Lightly Thrown: The Reason Behind Rhyme, Thorndike Press,2006 (ISBN 0-7862-8517-6)
  11. ^ 'Battersea', Special report: Class B for Battersea (2007), pp.1.
  12. ^ "Northern line extension". 
  13. ^ Delta Rail, 2008-09 station usage report, Office of the Rail Regulation website
  14. ^ Rebels don't make jokes about how excellent it is to have bishops in the House of Lords": An interview with John O'Farrell""". The Croydon Citizen. 
  15. ^ "Literary Review - Fergus Fleming on Mervyn Peake". 
  16. ^ Name of Asda store rekindles the ‘Clapham or Battersea’ row - News - London Evening Standard. (29 October 2010). Retrieved on 2013-08-24.

Further reading

  • Patrick Loobey, Battersea Past. Historical Publications Ltd., 2002. ISBN 0-948667-76-1
  • Peter Mason, The Brown Dog Affair. Two Sevens Publishing, 1997. ISBN 0-9529854-0-3
  • Martin Knight, Battersea Girl. Mainstream Publishing, 2006. ISBN 1-84596-150-1

External links

  • Battersea - 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article
  • Jane Ellison, MP for Battersea
  • Battersea in A short introduction to the history of the borough of Wandsworth from Wandsworth Council
  • Battersea in the Story of Wandsworth from Wandsworth Council Museum
  • Conservation Area Character Statements from Wandsworth Council, providing the history of many areas in and around Battersea
  • Battersea Works 1856-1956Excerpts from , from the Morgan Crucible Company
  • The Battersea Mural
  • SW11tch Back to Battersea, a campaign to avoid confusion between Clapham and Clapham Junction
  • The Battersea Society
  • The Friends of Battersea Square
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.