Love it or loathe them, Battersea Power Stations’ chimneys are back and here to stay after a complete rebuild

Battersea Power Station is not only an iconic landmark amongst London buildings, but right across the UK and worldwide. This is not only due to Pink Floyd flying an inflatable pig over it on the cover of their album ‘Animals’, but because of its distinct silhouette and the scale of its brick construction. For many years Battersea Power Station was the largest brick building in Europe and is a Grade II* Listed Building.
Battersea Power Station’s four iconic chimneys have been rebuilt using the same construction technique as when they first graced London’s skyline. Beroa Bierrum are the incumbent contractor undertaking the chimney rebuild works and carrying out the painting works.
Since the first pour on May 14th 2015, nearly 25,000 wheelbarrow loads of concrete have been hand-poured into the chimneys that each stand 51m tall.
Rather than use a hose to pour the concrete, it was decided to replicate the original construction methods and 680 tonnes of concrete was lifted in a hoist to the top of the chimney, transferred into wheelbarrows and then hand poured into the structures.
The rings that can be seen around the new chimneys, and that could also be seen around the old ones, are formed by using a ‘Jump Form’ shuttering method. Using steel and timber, the metal rings are filled with concrete then moved up and filled again.
The original chimneys, two were built in the 1930s and the second pair in the 1950s, had to be demolished as they were deemed unsafe because they were badly crumbling after so many years.
The north-east and south-west chimneys will still be used as chimneys for the new energy centre that will provide heating and cooling to the development with water vapour being released from their flues.
The north-west chimney is the last to be finished.
“Battersea Power Station’s chimneys have been the backdrop for films, music videos and album covers, and really world famous,” said Rob Tincknell, CEO of Battersea Power Station Development Company. “On behalf of our shareholders, I would like to say it has been an honour to restore this iconic symbol to the London skyline so that it can be enjoyed by generations to come.”
Emily Gee, London Planning Director at Historic England, said: “Historic England welcomes this final stage of the rebuilding of the chimneys, ensuring that the Power Station will retain its landmark status along this evolving part of London’s skyline.”
Painting begins
The painting of Battersea Power Station’s iconic chimneys began in May, marking a major milestone in the restoration programme.
A base coat will be applied to all four chimneys initially, with the South East chimney being the first to be painted. This will be done in conjunction with the final chimney, the North West, reaching full height. All chimneys are expected to have received a base coat by September 2017. A final coat will then be applied, ensuring that all chimneys will age concurrently.
“The chimneys will be painted from top to bottom, and each paint line will be approximately three metres wide,” explains Kate Boothman Meier, PR Manager for the Battersea Power Station Development Company. “Painting from top to bottom and moving the cradles takes exactly a day to complete, meaning that painting the next day starts again at the top. 375 litres of paint will be used per chimney – 1,500 litres in all.” 
Wish list
“Here at Keim, the redevelopment of the power station was on our ‘wish’ list of projects for many years, long before the first scaffolding pole was erected,” says Hannah Maiden, Customer Service Manager & Marketing Support, Keim Mineral Paints Ltd. “Even from our initial involvement there has been sometime between the initial specification and the first dip of a paint brush into a paint tub. The importance of the project, particularly the reconstruction the chimneys, has been such that the specification of all materials, including the paint, has been scrutinised to the highest degree to ensure the optimum materials have been selected.”
She explains: “Our first involvement in the project was through Carrig Conservation and then later Beroa Bierrum, and now that the paint is starting to be applied we can celebrate being involved in such a high profile project. Over the years Keim Mineral Paints have been used on many renowned buildings, such as Kensington Palace, the Royal Opera House and the Natural History Museum, and it always reaffirms the excellent and unparalleled benefits of Keim Mineral Paints.
The product selection for the concrete chimneys is Keim Soldalit-ME; a high performance mineral paint system, combining the most recent developments in mineral technology, silica-sol, and photocatalytic additives which help to improve air quality. Not only is the product extremely durable and breathable, but will withstand the gases which will be released from two of the chimneys, which act as flues from boiler systems, and will even help to reduce some of the subsequent pollution. The paint is also extremely incombustible, due to its mineral composition and absence of any petrochemical additives. The colour chosen is Light Ivory, RAL 1015. “The chimneys are being repainted in a colour to match that of the original,” explains Boothman Meier. “A meticulous colour match testing took place.”

Logical choice
Mineral paints, and in particular Keim, are the logical choice for such an inaccessible structure as the durability is key to ensuring that the coatings remain looking good for many years to come. “Mineral paints differ from conventional paint coatings because they actually bond to the substrate, rather than merely sticking like an acrylic layer,” explains Maiden. “This is what ensures that Keim paints last. In fact there are examples in Europe of Keim Mineral Paints which have been applied for over 100 years without any noticeable deterioration in the coatings and no fade in colour, thanks to the use of earth oxide, rather than acrylic, pigments.” An example of this is Schweiz Town Hall in Switzerland which was decorated in 1891.
Keim Mineral Paints are suitable for a wide range of buildings, from the enormous, iconic chimneys here at Battersea through to individual homes. The benefits the coatings impart are available to any who want the durability and extremely high performance of
a Keim Mineral Paint.
Keim Background
Keim Mineral Paints originated in Bavaria in 1878, but are now based in Telford, Shropshire.
The system was developed by AW Keim to reproduce the appearance of lime fresco finishes which were able to withstand harsh weather conditions.
The system is a liquid silicate paint which comprises a potassium silicate binder with inorganic fillers (feldspar) and natural earth oxide colour pigments. When applied onto a mineral substrate, the binder is absorbed and forms a micro-crystalline silicate structure. This crystalline structure allows the substrate to breathe but prevents the ingress of driven rain – a truly micro-porous coating.
Due to the unique way in which the system works, it ensures a long life, colourfast, protective finish with low maintenance. In the UK, over five million square metres of external facades have been decorated with Keim over the last 20 years and over two million square metres internally.
The company has supplied across a diverse range of sectors; the extreme nature of where and how Keim paints are used ranges from terraced housing to state of the art landmarks and stately homes, in particular buildings of distinction.