A circular rig has been installed around the south west chimney of Battersea Power Station which will carry specialist contractors and equipment to rebuild the structure.
The rig is set to slowly climb to the top of the chimney next week. On its way up, contractors from Beroa Bierrum will record details of the chimney. The dismantling of the chimney by four hydraulic jaws attached to the rig is expected to begin in mid-July.
The chimney debris will be funnelled down a chute in the centre of the chimney, collected and recycled. Several different on-site uses for the material are being explored, including reuse as artwork.
Once the chimney has been fully dismantled, it will be rebuilt from the bottom using the same materials as the original. It will take approximately five months to dismantle, and about six months to fully rebuild the chimney to its height of approximately 50 metres.
Once the south west chimney has been reconstructed back up to a height of 25 metres above the brick washtower, work will commence to dismantle and reconstruct the three remaining chimneys. All four chimneys are expected to be fully reconstructed in early 2016.
Paint scrapings have been taken to ensure that the new chimneys will be visually identical to the chimneys when they were first built. They will be built from the same materials as the originals, but with more modern steel reinforcements within the concrete to provide a more permanent solution to their conservation than simply refurbishing them. For each chimney approximately 600 tonnes of concrete will be removed and a similar volume used in the rebuild.
Justin Phillips, Timothy Jones, Philip Gullett and Cllr Ravi Govindia (pictured, left to right) took a look at the rig. Philip Gullett, Chief Operating Officer at BPSDC, commented: “The four iconic chimneys are not only one of the most distinctive features of the London skyline; they are the very DNA of this historical building. Today, we are a step closer to the start of this vital restoration work to safeguard the chimneys and the Power Station building itself for future generations.”
Cllr Ravi Govindia, Leader of Wandsworth Council, said: “We have agreed a financial bond with the developers which means that there will always be a fund ring-fenced specifically for the replacement of the chimneys which the council can call on.”
Justin Phillips, ?Partner and Director of Environment & Infrastructure, Buro Happold Engineering, said: “The rebuilt chimney will be visibly identical but the pattern of the steel reinforcement and the composition of the concrete has been improved to make the new chimneys less vulnerable to corrosion.”
Timothy Jones, Principal Inspector of Historic Buildings and Areas, English Heritage, said: “The chimney replacement programme is something we have worked on closely with the developers and we’re satisfied that this is the correct way forward and that once the chimneys have replaced you really won’t know the difference.”