A rather unusual post this. News that Battersea Power Station, Where Ann’s dad Fred worked throughout Ann’s childhood was to be turned into flats for multi-millionaires had Ann writing to the papers.
Memories of Battersea Power Station.
David Browning’s letter (Morning Star 27 March) brought back memories of my father, Fred Westbury, who worked at Battersea Power Station from 1946 until his retirement, on asbestos related health grounds, in the mid 1970’s.
Despite the unsafe working conditions Fred was enormously proud of the Power Station, and his comrades who worked there. Men like his pal, blacklisted American communist Charlie Doyle whose wife Mikki gave such service to the Morning Star and its predecessor the Daily Worker.
The gutter press declared Charlie Doyle ‘the most hated man in Britain’. Dad Fred told me, and anyone else who would listen, that in fact Charlie was a patriotic working class hero fighting to save his industry and workers jobs.
My dad Fred loved the dramatic power station building and often sketched what he described as the architectural masterpiece. His favourite subject was the space age control room.
He would boast about Battersea’s revolutionary technical features. The use of waste hot water, for instance, pumped under the river bed to heat council flats in Chelsea.
When Nationalisation came in 1947 Fred thought this was the start of a new socialist Britain. Sadly he watched when Maggie Thatcher closed Battersea and sold off the power industries nearly forty years later.
He hated Thatcher and what she had done to his beloved industry and indeed Britain in general. When he sank really low from his industrial disease, when his union, the TGWU, were fighting for compensation against the company who in the early stages claimed they had no knowledge of his ever having worked at Battersea, at those low times the mere mention of Thatcher’s name would revive his spirit and his fight.
Now the fine building on the banks of the Thames is scheduled to become a multi-millionaire’s playground. My dad Fred, and the many others who were proud to work there, must be turning in their graves.
This letter was published in the Morning Star in April 2014.