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Battersea

Along with Woolwich, Battersea was studied by the Survey of London in part to redress a long-standing bias within the series in favour of districts north of the Thames.

While much of Battersea is quintessential Victorian suburbia, it is a large and strikingly varied parish, cut about by innumerable railway lines to and from Clapham Junction. Its industrial riverside continues a transformation that began 50 years ago.

From the early seventeenth century to the early nineteenth Battersea was best known for market gardening, and supplying vegetables, fruit and flowers to the London markets. The village nucleus itself was by the river, close to the parish church, and there was a scattering of industry along the riverside.

Beyond the Thames lay marshland, then market gardens and small villas stretching back to Clapham Common and Wandsworth Common. From about 1840, railway lines, industry and large-scale housing erupted, taking the population from 4,000 to 120,000 in half a century. Handsome Battersea Park was laid out just in time to prevent the whole of the area beside the Thames being engulfed by building.

Social conditions in the north of the parish were severely impoverished, while after 1870 street after street of better suburban houses rose within reach of the commons. The criss-cross of different railway lines and their works was exceptionally tangled, leaving the topography of northern Battersea permanently scarred, though it is still marked by memorable sites such as Battersea Power Station and Clapham Junction. 

Publication of Volumes 49 and 50

The Survey of London completed its work on Battersea in 2013. Volumes 49 and 50 of the Survey were published by Yale University Press, with support from the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art.

Both volumes are fully illustrated books, with around 200 new drawings, a similar number of new photographs, and altogether more than 900 illustrations.

Volume 49, which contains a general historical introduction to Battersea, is arranged thematically to cover all building types (except housing), including public buildings, hospitals, churches, schools, buildings for entertainment, shopping, railways and industry - with a whole chapter on the power station - parks and open spaces, New Covent Garden Market, the heliport as well as a chapter on the current large-scale regeneration of Nine Elms.

Volume 50 follows more traditional Survey of London lines and is divided topographically into nineteen chapters, with a general introduction to housing history in Battersea.  

Draft chapters of Volumes 49 and 50

Pending a full online version, we have placed the draft texts of all 32 chapters from both Battersea books here, with a map to explain the chapter divisions in Volume 50. 

Volume 49: Battersea - Draft chapters

Following the success of making a draft of Woolwich (Volume 48, October 2012) available online in advance of its publication, we have placed all 32 chapters from both Battersea books online, with a map to explain the chapter divisions in Volume 50. 

We include references but not illustrations in the texts.

View online or download each chapter of Volume 49 as a PDF.

Volume 50: Battersea - Draft chapters

Following the success of making a draft of Woolwich (Volume 48, October 2012) available online in advance of its publication, we have placed all 32 chapters from both Battersea books online, with a map to explain the chapter divisions in Volume 50. 

We include references but not illustrations in the texts.

View online or download the explanatory map and each chapter of Volume 50 as a PDF.