Battersea has been home to the RAD for 50 years, connecting it to the world – but how much do you know about this area of London? Veronica Horwell leads a unique audio tour through Battersea’s rich history – through trains and riverboats, parks and pubs and of course education and dance.
Writer and broadcaster Veronica Horwell takes us on a unique tour through Battersea – from the famous Dogs and Cats Home to its iconic power station, along the river and ending at the RAD’s new global headquarters. Prepare to meet asparagus growers, Sherlock Holmes and a surprising number of helicopters!
Produced by Sarah Myles
Follow the tour and explore the sights of Battersea
Battersea’s best bits
Veronica Horwell selects ten highlights of the RAD’s London neighbourhood.
1 — Battersea Dogs and
Rescuing animals since 1871, more than three million have passed through to a new home, including Larry the Cat, now of 10 Downing Street.
2 — Battersea Park Station
Several early Victorian railway companies crossed their tangled lines over previously market-gardened mudflats, to bring food into the capital and take people out.
3 — Power Station
Four chimneys for a twin complex built from six million bricks, far bigger than the largest cathedral. It steam-generated enough electricity from coal and Thames water for 20% of all London.
4 — Battersea Park
One of the world’s first free parks for ordinary people’s pleasure, railing-enclosed and planted out like a very rich family’s country estate. Home to the fun part of the 1951 Festival of Britain.
5 — The Bridges
Chelsea to bring poor pleasure seekers across the Thames to the Park, Albert to bring rich carriage folk to new mansion flats beside the Park, and Battersea to commute workers to riverside industries.
6 — The Old RAD HQ
Fifty glorious years here of training and examining dancers on the boards of old warehouses where wheat used to be kept cool and dry ready to grind to flour for London’s bakeries.
7 — Quecumbar
Began anciently as one of the High Street’s very rustic pubs, the Original Woodman, more recently London’s unexpected home for traditional Gypsy swing jazz.
8 — The Heliport
Since 1959, a landing pad on the river and a parking lot for the noisy little taxi-choppers.
9 — Candlemakers
This steampunk French chateau complex was formerly Price’s factory for patent candles, bright-burning and clean-smelling despite being made from lowly fats.
10 — The new RAD HQ
Seven studios, a proper theatre, a library of dance, the RAD archive, and spaces to share with local residents, all in the bottom storeys of the new Coda housing complex.
Veronica Horwell is a writer for the Guardian, among other publications.
Sarah Myles is an award winning podcast producer whose projects include Tan France’s Queer Icons, Are You Convinced from UK Youth and Why Dance Matters, the RAD podcast.