The History Behind London’s Latest Power-Station Conversion

Carla Passino April 9, 2024

Much like the iconic Battersea, The Powerhouse also finds it identity in its previous life as a power station that kept London’s underground running.

Europe had never before seen a power station like the one in London’s Lots Road. Dubbed the Chelsea Monster, it was a giant of a steel-frame building, made with almost 6,000 tons of steel, its four chimneys towering 275ft above the Thames and the tidal Chelsea Creek. A brilliant expanse of red brick, broken up by vast arched windows, hid eight turbo-generators in its entrails and a spectacular control room.


The Monster had been designed at the very outset of the 20th century by American engineer James Russell Chapman for his compatriot, magnate Charles Yerkes, who needed energy to power his District Railway (later the District Line) and the three new Tube lines he had planned. Now, much like nearby Battersea Power Station, it has risen from its industrial ashes to become the centrepiece of the Chelsea Waterfront development. Homes are on the market with Savills with prices starting from £1.695 million.

Spacious, modern and airy.

Completely renovated, it comprises a collection of one- to four-bedroom apartments that combine the original architectural features with a contemporary, luxurious feel and magnificent views of the river. Residents also have access to a wellness centre with pool and spa, a waterside restaurant with café and shops and 24-hour concierge service.

Recommended videos for you

Inside one of the chimeys. Can you live there? No. Is it cool? Yes.

Yerkes barely managed to see the power station open, as he died on December 29, 1905. Nonetheless, his creature endured, guzzling 500 tons of coal every day, which arrived by barge, to produce 65,000 horsepower, according to an old London Underground advert; this was enough to work 80 miles of railways, 145 lifts and 900 cars.

The gym. A lot nicer than my gym, that’s for sure.

A 1908 news report in The Builder shows how critical the station was to keeping London moving: when a surge put it out of action, three Tube lines, the District Railway and a tram line in Surrey were all stopped for two hours. Lots Road also became a cinematic backdrop, its roof starring in the 1928 film Underground.

As locations in London go, this part of Chelsea is a pretty sweet spot.

But in a century of great leaps, the Monster, which had continued to work even during the Second World War, eventually became obsolete. It shut in 2002, only a few years shy of its centenary, having lost two of its four towers. Now, 22 years later, it is once again serving residents in South West London.

Prices at Powerhouse Chelsea begin at £1.695 million. For more information and pictures, click here.

Credit: Alex Winship/The Family Office, UKSIR A host of historical figures have made their homes at 149 Old Park Lane, from Rolls Royce to Royal Family

Credit: Knight Frank White Lodge quite literally offers the best of both worlds and is a tremendous example of the English country home.

Credit: Savills The beautiful home of Porthledden is a classic tale of local boy made good — but Francis Oats didn’t get to

Thalassa is a home that enjoys glorious sunsets, delightful beaches, privacy and seclusion — yet is close enough to the action