Last week saw the long-awaited and much-anticipated formal handover of the western switch station (behind Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall) to Tate. UK Power Networks have completed the task of upgrading their cables (over the last ten years we have seen the company running the power station change several times) and passed the baton to us (still owned by the people).

The Western tank to the Switch House
The Western tank to the Switch House


The handover marks a key point in the delivery of the Tate Modern Project. It means we are now able to begin to demolish the old switch house which will then allow us to create the opening from the main Tate Modern building to the new development. When the project is complete, this will create a new link from the City and the Millennium Bridge directly to south London. Its very much in keeping with a central aim of the project; to open up the building both physically and, in the work we do, to areas and communities to the south of us particularly in Southwark and Lambeth.

Tate marks handover of the switch house
Tate marks handover of the switch house from Basil Scarsella, CEO of UK Power Networks to Alex Beard, Deputy Director. Also pictured Debbie Jackson, Director of Capital Projects and Design, London Development Agency, Jim Ledger, MACE and Councillor Peter John, Leader, Southwark Council.
Behind the scenes TTMP staff
Rarely seen photographers, press officers and other behind the scenes TTMP staff


Looking up from the oil tanks
Looking up from the oil tanks to the Neo Bankside site next door

What else are we up to on site?. With the demolition now underway (we haven’t quite made demolition news yet, I joke not, but you never know) we have also been completing laying the foundations and core piling (here is an interesting blog on piling) for the oil tanks. One-and-a-half-metre deep concrete has now been poured to cover the foundations of the tanks and other spaces we will use in and around them. I asked one of our technical experts how much concrete that amounted to and his answer was “that’s a h*** of a lot of concrete” which was reassuringly non-technical, but of course its all being done to the highest standards you would expect. (According to my records it will be around 10,300 m3 - that’s similar to, very topically, filling the Olympic swimming pool. ED)

TM Curators and Architects on site
TM Curators and Architects on site Sheena Wagstaff, Kathy Noble, Catherine Wood (all Tate) and Ben Duckworth and Christoph Zeller, (Herzog De Meuron)


A recent visit on site by some of the curators working on the programme for the oil tanks (which will be revealed later this year) with the project architects from Herzog De Meuron confirmed that we will try to retain much of the rough industrial feel of the tank walls for the finished use. It’s quite exciting to think about these beautiful (unique for London) spaces being available to thousands of visitors to enjoy in the future. We are following this philosophy in the rest of the project, looking to retain quirky spaces (like the Drum Gallery which used to be used as a sump - here shown embossed with Bankside on the metalwork), and give the heritage a twist by remaking them as spaces for art or artistic intervention.

The Drum Gallery interior 2
The Drum Gallery interior; it used to be used as a sump
The Drum Gallery interior
The Drum Gallery interior; it used to be used as a sump


We will be starting to put the lids back over the tanks over the summer so do have a look at our webcam to see them while they’re still opened up.


Tony Wilson

I am writing an editorial piece on the 2010 acquisition of JMW Turner's "Modern Rome — Campo Vaccino” by the J. Paul Getty Museum for $44.9 million.

A number of executives were madly discussing "Fishermen Coming Ashore at Sun Set, pervious to a Gale ('The Mildmay Seapiece')” by Turner which was exhibited in 1797 and of which has since been untraceable.

Their excitement was about an unknown Turner detail on the following website.

Is this the above missing Turner?

Do you know anything about the Unthank Collection in Melbourne, Australia?

Your faithfully,

Tony Wilson journalist Email: