Remember When Battersea Power Station Was Going To Be A Theme Park?

We’ve already told you that Apple are relocating to Battersea Power Station, but the iconic building wasn’t always destined to become more offices. Back in 1987, plans were in place to turn Battersea Power Station into “the world’s greatest theme park”. Following a contest run by the government to find a new use for the abandoned building, a bloke called John Broome won the bid with his proposal to turn the landmark into a mecca of entertainment. Back in 2014, when his son was helping clear out the shed, they discovered the original plans for the attraction, including fanciful drawings of roller coasters, a giant ice rink, a waterfall and a massive oceanarium. The Battersea, as the park was due to be called, was scheduled to officially open in 1990 (a decision rubber stamped by Margaret Thatcher herself, apparently).

Plans for The Battersea were very ambitious (and frankly quite ludicrous) but John had every intention to deliver. The parks features were to include six themed floors, each with culturally appropriate restaurants and cinemas; balloon rides inside the atrium; an oceanarium big enough that it could be explored by mini submarines; and a re-creation of the runaway train in Indiana Jones, made by the same guys who designed the original film set. He also envisioned a direct “bullet train” that would take passengers from Victoria station to the attraction in just three and a half minutes — the carriages would have had video screens that created the illusion that the train was travelling at supersonic speed. May we remind you that this was the eighties? 

So what went wrong? Broome basically went bankrupt. His bank went bust, the recession hit, and the building required so much work even before they could start on the dreamworld that they imagined. He was forced to sell the company, as well as basically everything else he owned — including Alton Towers and his family home.

Though this story is pretty well-known by now, what a lot of people don’t realise is that, before the plan completely and utterly flopped, the project was actually already underway. Giant glass elevator shafts had been delivered, the design team were living on site and the building was basically ready and raring to go. There just wasn’t any money left because they’d spent it all on clearing away the asbestos and making sure the building didn’t sink into the ground. Shit happens, eh?


Feature Image: Evening Standard 

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