Return to Battersea

On a return visit to Battersea I intended to document the materials of the area following the feedback from my previous tutorial. Initially I experimented with taking rubbings using charcoal and oil pastel, but struggled to achieve much definition and found it difficult to distinguish between the textures of each rubbing.

I proceeded to photograph the materials of the site with the aim of building up a taxonomy of images that could then be mapped across the area.

Bearing in mind the method employed by Gissen in his own work, I created these categories of my findings;

01 reflection
02 light and shadow
03 signage
04 ‘clean’
05 ‘dirt’
06 materials
07 reclaimed history
08 industry

In my explorations of the wider Battersea, I considered the industries that once were here and now are redundant. Passing through a market, I noticed only one fruit and vegetable stall, the produce of which had been transported here from elsewhere, despite this area having a rich agricultural history.

Units under railway bridges reflect a time of workshop production that are now disused and left to rust. Areas along the riverside which were once hives of industry for breweries, chemical factories and boat builders to name but a few, are now large scale residential schemes.

Industrial railway unit

At the new development by the power station, a candle making workshop offers experiences in making your own candles in such a clean and sedate environment that it becomes a leisure activity rather than a production of an item that Battersea was once famous for. Price’s candles which was established in 1830, situated on the bank of the Thames in Battersea used the newest technologies of the time to create their products. A result of this was having to manage waste chemical materials that were produced as a by-product. This allowed further industrial growth when they were developed into lubricants used for cotton mill machinery, advanced the soap industry, and developed new products such as motor oil with the arrival of car manufacturing.  One factory in Battersea allowed the development of industries that are integral to how we live today.


The Circus West Village development is making use of the space available in the units beneath the railway, with a restaurant already open, another coming soon next door and Dodd’s Gin next to that. All of these are opposite No. 29; a restaurant and cocktail bar, which has Wright Brother’s restaurant opening next door, situated beside Fiume restaurant. There seems to be little consideration into how the area may develop a community outside of the fine dining industry.


Is there a way of reintroducing production and industry into Battersea that is relevant and useful to the residents today?



What do you consider productivity to be? The restaurants that are proposed do produce, so consider what it is you intend to introduce and what benefit this will have on the community.

Think about what industries would be relevant to introduce today. What is it you’re trying to achieve by doing this and how could the specific production chosen help?

What are the contemporary alternatives to what used to exist here?

Mark Brearley has catalogued over 2200 industries in London – which of these are in the Battersea area? Do you expand on these or introduce new ones?

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