Battersea Puzzle

A snapshot of 1980s Battersea lost forever.

Battersea Puzzle
The Battersea Puzzle mural was demolished in 2013. This mural portrayed the experiences of the local community; it included portraits of local residents and showed events that were particularly relevant to the history of the community and its current situation in the early 1980s.

It was started in September 1980 when the Rev Michael Wimshurst of the local church, St Peters, asked the Wandsworth Arts Resource Project (WARP) to paint a mural . Christine Thomas of WARP developed the idea of showing a 'then and now' scenario of local historical events. Using the idea of a jigsaw puzzle, the mural shows the current stories of the area with puzzle pieces removed to reveal the pas; this reveals the similarities and differences

The creation of the mural was begun in April 1981 with the priming of the surface. The first part of the three times eighteen metre mural shows German bombers seen flying over Battersea Power station; an image of a large painted tiger from the local funfair rides sits at the bottom of the painting. It leads onto a Victorian house being repaired by a man on a ladder representing the gentrification of the area. An old steam train is portrayed next to a new train showing the changes to the Clapham Junction Railway station. This leads on to the march for jobs showing marchers from Jarrow representing the loss of industry in the area, the closures of ‘Morgans’, ‘Airfix’, and ‘Gartons’ and ‘Decca’ factories. There is an image of a burnt out church showing what happened to the original St Peter’s building.

Beyond these scenes is a tower block with the sign “we want out”. During this period, local residents were moved to the high rise to alleviate the slums but had found that they were in accommodation unsuitable for families. The next scene is a giant broom sweeping up pieces of the jigsaw puzzle representing the clearing of the past to reveal the future. This brush is a copy of one found in the destroyed 'Battersea, the good, the bad and the ugly' mural.

The mural is now gone taking with it the pictures of the local people and their concerns. It took several years for the decision to destroy the building and the mural to be agreed so we were lucky that more people got the opportunity to take a look at it and recognise the similar histories between the past, the present of the 1980s and the present of today.

Have we missed something?

If you know something about this mural that we have missed the please get in touch.

This mural has been lost

Where to find it

21 Plough Road, Battersea, London SW11 2DE

This mural no longer exists.
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Dimensions

18 m x 3 m Person for scale
Full width not shown

Timeline

1981 1981 1981
Started Completed Opened
2013
Destroyed

Materials

  • Paint: Household Paint

Funding

  • Rev Michael Wimshurst of the local church, St Peters

© London Mural Preservation Society 2017