At Risk: London’s big renovation projects #1

A couple of weeks ago we mentioned how ‘Robin’s nest’ – the Hawaiian Island estate where 80’s series Magnum was filmed – is for sale for a cool $15 million, despite it being in need of significant renovation. That got us to thinking. What else is out there? Where are the most ambitious renovation projects? So here’s the first in what’s sure to be a mini-series: looking at the architectural challenges of Camden, Southwark and Wandsworth – if you’ve got the inclination, money and expertise…

It’s a shame that the BBC TV programme Restoration, Restoration, Restoration was axed. It was the one where Griff Rhys-Jones visited buildings of importance that were in various states of disrepair, neglect and decay, then the public got to vote on which to save. Sadly, there are thousands of such buildings. But the good news is that the English Heritage ‘At Risk Register’ keeps track of them all. We took a look, and in part one of our short series on big renovation projects here are three of the biggest architectural challenges in our three necks of London’s woods: Camden, Southwark and Wandsworth. 

Southwark – The Former Fire Station, Old Kent Road, SE15

Built between 1903-1904 this Grade II listed  former Fire Station is a familiar turn of the century architectural London style: in Redbrick with Portland Stone dressing. Currently a commercial premises, it’s classified by English Heritage as in Poor condition, although recent work on the roof will help slow the gradual decay that English Heritage say the building is at risk of.

It’s a terrific building looking, and (very aptly given its former function) is currently home to a showroom for Fireplaces and Antiques. Given the open space Fire station buildings have they lend themselves to all sorts of alternative uses. Bournemouth’s Grade II listed example has been the Coastal University’s Student Union since 1995.

Camden – The Lighthouse Block, Pentonville Road, WC1

The Lighthouse block is one of Camden Boroughs landmarks and has been part of the King’s Cross Landscape since circa 1875. After years of neglect and listing on the At Risk Register, a scheme was approved for refurbishment for Office and Retail use. Work commenced on the building in August 2013. Opinions are divided on the transparent Whaleback roof that the renovated building will sport, but the majority consensus seems to be that the restoration can only be good for the area. 

With landmarks including a Lighthouse and the Roundhouse, Camden’s got more than its fair share of architectural house based iconic buildings.



Wandsworth – one of our city’s most recognisable landmarks, backdrop for many an action movie and cover subject in Pink Floyd’s ‘Animals’ album – Battersea Power Station in the borough of Wandsworth is one of the most iconic listed buildings in the UK.

Built from 1932, Battersea operated as a power station until 1983. But its architecture is by no means ordinary and exudes the art-deco style that was prevalent at the time. Despite being a relatively recent building in Listed status terms, English Heritage recognised the cultural and architectural importance of this landmark by giving it Grade II status.

The current structure (including the four famous white chimneys) are in a decaying state and its condition is described as ‘very bad’ on the At Risk register. The good news is that in 2011 planning permission was granted for mixed use development and a consortium of Malaysian businesses purchased the site in 2012. They have commissioned consultants to prepare a scheme for the works.

Probably the most infamous incident in the history of Battersea came in 1976, when prog-rock band Pink Floyd accidentally released an inflatable Pink Pig over London. It ascended into Heathrow’s flight path before heading off and landing in Kent, pursued by police Helicopters.

Of course few people will get to restore a listed building, but plenty of our customers embark on renovating their own homes. If you are carrying out home improvements it makes sense to move stuff into safe, secure storage that is fantastic value. That’s what we do, and we’d be delighted to welcome you to one of our stores.