Lots Road Power Station is a disused coal and later oil-fired power station on the River Thames at Lots Road in Chelsea, London in the south-west of The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, which supplied electricity to the London Underground system. It is sometimes erroneously referred to as Fulham Power Station, a name properly applied to another former station a mile up river.
A power station at Lots Road was originally planned by the Brompton and Piccadilly Circus Railway (B&PCR, now part of the Piccadilly line) in 1897. The B&PCR was controlled by the Metropolitan District Railway (MDR, now the District line) from 1898, and was sold in 1901 to Charles Yerkes' Metropolitan District Electric Traction Company, which built the station to provide power to the MDR. The station allowed the District line trains to change from steam haulage to electric. At around the same time the Metropolitan Railway built its power station at Neasden.
The station was built end-on to the Thames, on the north bank of the tidal Chelsea Creek. Construction started in 1902 and was completed in December 1904, with the station becoming operational in February 1905. The station burned 700 tonnes of coal a day and had a generating capacity of 50,000 kW. At the time it was claimed to be the largest power station ever built and would eventually power most of the railways and tramways in the Underground Group.
The station was re-equipped and improved on several occasions.During the early 1920s a sump & hopper system for more efficient fuel handling was installed. This was designed by The Underfeed Stoker Company & constructed under their stewardship by Peter Lind & Company who still trade in London today. The modernisation undertaken in the 1960s converted the station to 50 Hz generation and from burning coal to using heavy fuel oil. The number of chimneys was reduced from the original four to two. But between 1974 and 1977, with the discovery of natural gas in the North Sea, the boilers were converted to run on gas, with the option of oil firing if required. The station later worked in conjunction with the ex-London County Council Tramways power station at Greenwich to supply the London Underground network.
The station played a part in the birth of commercial radio in the UK. When the first two radio stations, LBC and Capital Radio, opened in October 1973, the site for their medium wave transmitters was not complete. As a result, a temporary 'Tee' antenna was strung up between the two chimneys (transmitting LBC on 417 m (719 kHz), and Capital Radio on 539 m (557 kHz)), until the permanent site at Saffron Green was ready in 1975. Some years later the site was used again, on 720 kHz (for a low power MW relay of BBC Radio 4's LW service) which was in use until 2001 when the radio transmitter was moved to Crystal Palace.
In the 1990s, it was decided that rather than re-equip Lots Road, it would continue to operate until the machinery's life was expired. It remained in operation until being shut down on 21 October 2002. Since then, all power for the tube system is supplied from the National Grid.