The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

Buildings at risk

Former Fawley Power Station, Hampshire

Former Fawley Power Station, Hampshire

Designed by the specialists in industrial structures, Farmer and Dark, and built between 1965 and 1971, it is one of only three remaining oil-fired power stations in the UK (the others being Bankside, now Tate Modern, and Littlebrook, also under threat with a Certificate of Immunity). Its enormous 650ft chimney towers over the flatness of the New Forest and the sheltered waters of the Solent, an aid for shipping in one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.  Fawley’s hall is a long, straight-sided box with its roof in twenty sections, mostly of corrugated aluminium sheeting.  What adjoins alongside is the real star of the show: a central core rising between the boiler house and the switch house, and higher than both.  The walls are a close zig-zag of glass, formed into adjacent triangular columns rising until, just below the flat roof, they taper between inverse columns slotting downwards.  The interior is no less futuristic with its curving walls, stacked up with dials, controls and flickering screens broken up by a strip of windows giving almost 360 degree views of Southampton Water. The ceiling lights radiate from the central pillar, spiral staircases take you down to the lobby, detailed in teak and polished concrete. The potential for re-use as a public facility – Tate Modern offers a precedent – is inspiring if challenging, but following an unsuccessful attempt by C20 to gain protection with Grade II listing, the proposed use for the site is residential redevelopment.

Fawley Power Station at night photo by Grahame Newnham
Fawley Power Station at night, Photo © Grahame Newnham

Buildings at risk

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