Fulham Power Station

Fulham Power Station was a coal-fired power station on the north bank of the River Thames at Battersea Reach in Fulham, London, not to be confused with Lots Road Power Station, a mile or so downstream in Chelsea.

Fulham Power Station
A jetty nearby the power station allowed access to the coaling yard
Official nameFulham A & B Power Stations
LocationLondon Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham
Coordinates51.470°N 0.183°W / 51.470; -0.183
Commission date1901
Decommission date1978
Operator(s)Fulham Borough Council (1901–48), British Electricity Authority (1948–54), Central Electricity Authority (1954–57), CEGB (1957–78)
Thermal power station
Primary fuelCoal
Power generation
Nameplate capacity310 MW
External links
CommonsRelated media on Commons

grid reference TQ262761


The original power station was built around 1901 by Fulham Borough Council. A second, 'B' station opened in 1936, occupying a 124 acres (50 ha) site with a river frontage of 1,300 feet (400 m). The station was designed to have a capacity of at least 310 megawatts (MW), the largest of any municipally-owned station in the UK.[1] It was designed by G.E. Baker and Preece, Cardew and Rider.[2] Fulham was one of the first stations to be fitted with flue-gas Desulphurisation equipment.[3] This was operated on 120MW of capacity between 1936 and 1940, but later removed.[4]

Collier fleet and war damage

The 'B' station had a 120-yard (110 m) coal wharf,[2] served by its own fleet of flatiron colliers built by the Burntisland Shipbuilding Company of Fife, Scotland.[5] Fulham Borough's ship colours were a grey hull and a grey funnel emblazoned with a black top.[6] The black funnel top was emblazoned with a monogram of the letters "FBC".[6]

The first three flatirons, of nearly 1,600 GRT each, were launched in 1935–37 as SS Fulham, Fulham II and Fulham III.[5] They were joined by the 1,562 GRT sister ships SS Fulham IV and SS Fulham V launched in 1938 and 1939.[5]

During the Second World War the station and its ships were targets for enemy action. In September 1940 a Luftwaffe air raid in the London blitz damaged the power station. On 4 September 1940 a Kriegsmarine E-boat torpedoed and shelled Fulham V in the North Sea off Cromer. The collier sank but all 19 crew were rescued.[5] On 19 February 1941 Fulham II was damaged by a mine off the mouth of the River Tyne.[5] One crew member was killed and she was beached at Frenchman's Point near South Shields to save her from sinking.[5] She was taken to Jarrow on 18 March and later returned to service.[5]

The 1,552 GRT sister ships SS Fulham VI and SS Fulham VII were launched in November and December 1941.[5] Both survived the war but Fulham VII did not have a long life. On 14 February 1946 she was off Beachy Head in the English Channel bringing coal from Barry in south Wales when she was sunk in a collision with a US Victory Ship, the 7,607 GRT SS Alfred Victory.[5]

MV Fulham VIII and MV Fulham IX were sister ships launched in 1947 and 1948.[5] They were motor ships, and at almost 1,750 GRT were considerably larger than the earlier coal-burners.[5]

Fulham I and Fulham III were scrapped in 1958, followed by Fulham IV and Fulham VI in 1959 and Fulham II in 1960.[5] Fulham VIII was scrapped in 1969 but Fulham IX was sold in 1970 to new owners in Piraeus, Greece, who renamed her Eleistria II.[5] On 4 July 1978 she was damaged in a collision with the Cypriot coaster MV Lokma in the Gulf of Suez.[5] She arrived in Suez on 7 July, where she was scrapped.[5]


In 1948 Britain's electricity supply industry was nationalised under the Electricity Act 1947 and Fulham Power Station became part of the British Electricity Authority. The BEA was succeeded by the Central Electricity Authority in 1954 and the Central Electricity Generating Board in 1957.

Decommissioning and asbestos removal

The CEGB decommissioned the power station in 1978 and sold it for redevelopment. Early in the 1980s some of its buildings were demolished for redevelopment, and the remaining buildings were converted into a 20,000 square metres (220,000 sq ft) storage facility.

After the CEGB sold the power station, a private contractor removed and bagged about 1,000 tonnes[7] of hazardous asbestos and dumped it at an approved site in west London.[8] Residents living close to the power station formed two campaign groups to raise their concerns about the possible risk to public health.[8]

Fulham Power Station was one of the first of a number of power stations that the CEGB was making redundant and selling for redevelopment at that time.[8] On 28 July 1983 it was the focus of a House of Commons debate on the sale and demolition of redundant power stations.[8]

Labour MP Tom Cox, who had worked for the CEGB and whose Tooting constituency was only about 1 mile (1.6 km) from the power station, called it a "A major health and environmental issue" and called the CEGB's actions "incompetent".[8] Cox said the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 required six weeks' notice before any asbestos removal, but the CEGB did not give local residents even a month's notice that it had sold the power station or that it was to be demolished.[8]

Conservative MP Martin Stevens, whose Fulham constituency included the power station, told the House that the CEGB had not told the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham it had sold the power station and had no statutory obligation to do so.[8] The borough had immediately started monitoring asbestos in the atmosphere. On one occasion asbestos removal had been ordered to stop when it exceeded safe limits, but the Health and Safety Executive had to give the order as borough environmental health officers had no statutory powers concerning asbestos.[8] Stevens also noted that the borough, not the contractor, was paying the £20,000 per month cost of this monitoring, and to do so for a year would equate to 1% of the Borough's income from local rates.[8]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Employment, John Gummer, told the House that he gave the CEGB credit for saying

"We have been told by the citizens of Fulham and people throughout the country that they would feel more assured if we had full responsibility to control the removal of asbestos from power stations before selling them."[8]

Gummer stated that the Control of Pollution Act 1974 (COPA) required asbestos to be double-bagged to minimise the risk of contamination or spillage, and that this was monitored.[8] However, Martin Stevens intervened stating that the contractor had not double-bagged asbestos waste at Fulham, to which Gummer replied that it for the HSE to decide if one bag would suffice.[8]

In the House of Commons the day after the debate Alf Dubs, Labour MP for the Battersea constituency just across the river from Fulham Power Station, asked Norman Tebbit, Secretary of State for Employment "what representations he has received about the dangers of asbestos caused by the demolition of Fulham power station".[9] John Gummer replied for the Secretary of State

"The Health and Safety Executive is monitoring demolition work at Fulham and the Central Electricity Generating Board has announced that in future it will strip power stations of asbestos before sale."[9]

The site was built and developed into the "Regent on the River" apartment complex in the late 1980s. The architecture of the buildings reflects that of the power station of which they replaced.

Confusion with Lots Road Power Station

There is some confusion in historical references between the Fulham and Lots Road stations. The two can be readily distinguished in photographs because Fulham had four concrete chimneys (similar to those of nearby Battersea Power Station, but in line), whilst Lots Road had four (later two) brick chimneys at its corners.


  1. Parker, W. & Clarke, H., Fulham base-load Power Station: Mechanical and electrical considerations Archived 17 October 2005 at Archive.today, Journal of the Institution of Civil Engineers, 9/7, pp17–66, June 1938
  2. Weinreb, Ben & Hibbert, Christopher, 1983, The London Encyclopedia, London, Macmillan, ISBN 0-333-30024-6
  3. Hay, et al., Discussion. Constructional work of the Fulham Power-Station. Fulham Base-Load Power-Station: Mechanical and electrical considerations, Journal of the Institution of Civil Engineers, 9/7, pp. 67–94, June 1938
  4. DTI, Flue Gas Desulphurisation (FGD) Technologies for Coal-Fired Combustion Plant, 2003.
  5. Anderson, James B (2008). Sommerville, Iain (ed.). "Ships built by the Burntisland Shipbuilding Company Ltd: arranged by date of launch". Welcome to Burntisland. Iain Sommerville. Retrieved 15 June 2011.
  6. Talbot-Booth 1942, p. 762
  7. Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1985/apr/04/asbestos-waste-vitrification#S6CV0076P0_19850404_HOC_245. 4 April 1985. col. 1400. External link in |publisher= (help)
  8. Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1983/jul/28/asbestos-power-station#S6CV0046P0_19830728_HOC_420. 28 July 1983. col. 1401-1417. External link in |publisher= (help)
  9. http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/written_answers/1983/jul/29/asbestos-power-stations#S6CV0046P0_19830729_CWA_123 |chapter-url= missing title (help). Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). House of Commons. 29 July 1983. col. 650W.


  • Talbot-Booth, E.C. (1942) [1936]. Ships and the Sea (Seventh ed.). London: Sampson Low, Marston & Co. Ltd. p. 762.
Preceded by
Agecroft Power Station
Largest Power Station in the UK
Succeeded by
Barking Power Station
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