I’m amazed that there isn’t an article for this on here yet!
Ah Ba-a-sea (as we all called it, a local knows it has 2 t’s in the name but neither are used): the home of my formative years in the 80’s. I’ve not been back here since meeting up with a young lady for a day back in 2004 and before then hadn’t been back since my parents and I moved to Welling (another cess pit of despair) in 1992 so this will probably need updating! For those who do not know the area, Battersea falls under the auspices of the London Borough of Wandsworth, on the south bank of the Thames. Everyone seems to know the place for two reasons; the Dogs Home and the Power Station but there is so much more than a lot of s**t and a ruin, errrr actually…
I always thought that Battersea was the best place in the world, much better than what I classed as its rival town Beirut. I went to a local primary school which backed onto the railway lines leading in to Clapham Junction Station. When the IRA detonated a bomb there in ’91 our school was closed as the debris fell into the playground, this actually raised the safety record of the school. Even then the racial/social melting pot mean that as a white male being raised by both parents who were married to each other, I was the minority (not a racist comment, merely an accurate observation) to the point that I considered that excellent sitcom Desmond’s to be a fly on the wall documentary. Though this did mean that we had some wonderful West Indian shops in the area, remember having a tasty of a Jamaican patty when I was 9.
Depending on where you lived you were either rich (the “mansions” looking over Battersea Park or along the river) or very poor (anywhere else). My street was lovely, we had a massive drugs and prostitution dawn raid 3 doors away from us. The target was a chap called Jim, this may not be his real name as I can remember hearing him being called several other names, who supplied a very well know snooker world champion with his supply of Peruvian marching powder and was once seen at 2am running up and down the street stark naked wearing only a condom and with a rolled up fiver still in his nose… We also had 3 heroin dealers/users down the road and used to watch customers almost playing them off against each other just to get the best/least cut deal!
Battersea High Street, home of one of the finest Italian restaurants I’ve ever been to, the chemist where my Mum worked and the skankiest market ever seen by human eyes! The highlights of this were the pound stall run by a wannabe cockney wideboy called Jim (not the drug dealing pimp of earlier) which sold back of a lorry crap of such a high lever that now it would be called retro and the toiletries stall run by an Alan Alda lookalike called Jim (yes, another one, do try to keep up) selling Jonelle (John Lewis own brand) and St Michael’s (M&S) as though it was perfectly legal. That actually formed the social/economic/criminal hub of Battersea for many years, yes we were that sad.
Now bearing in mind that Battersea is a hefty stones throw away from Chelsea you would have thought that it’d be a bit posher but it honestly wasn’t. Imagine Stoke, Grimsby or Hastings today and you have a good idea of what it was like! There was an influx of yuppie blood when the Tory council decided not to introduce council tax and locals realised these idiots would buy a mouldy Victorian slum clearance house worth £50K for £250K because daddy wanted them to live somewhere “real”.
I do know from people who have been there recently that the area has undergone some sort of renaissance, the huge regeneration works around the Power Station being a catalyst for this but some areas are still described as being like Basra but with more knives.