Battersea power station – Pink Floyd Battersea – A brief history

Pink Floyd have always been known nearly as much for the iconic artwork associated with their albums as their music. The cover of Animals being no exception. Released on 23rdJanuary 1977 by harvest records in the UK and Columbia in the USA , it was the tenth album by Pink Floyd. The albums iconic cover consists of a picture of a pig floating between two of the chimneys at Battersea power station. It was designed by the bands long term artwork designer and friend Storm Thorgeson of Hipgnosis studios and has them now being forever associated as being “power station band”.

The Animals Album Cover

Once the album had been finished, work began on its cover. Storm having been the designer of the band’s previous album covers was called upon to come up with some ideas, He originally came up with a couple of ideas to show the band. One idea involved an idea of a small child looking into his parents’ bedroom to find them having sex: “copulating, like animals!” None of these idea came to fruition and unusually the final design idea came from Roger Waters, the bands bassist and one of the main songwriters. He drove past the power station nearly every day as he lived nearby , so it was heavily engrained in his thoughts. The building was coming towards the end of its working life at this point and was in a state of general disrepair. A view of the building was chosen for the cover image, and the band commissioned German company Ballon Fabrik (who had previously constructed the famous Zeppelin airships) to build the inflatable pig with the help of Australian artist and designer Jeffery Shaw. It was over 30ft long and known affectionately as Algie.

During the photo shoot for the album cover, Algie broke loose from its tethers on the second day and, much to the astonishment of the pilots of approaching passenger jets, it escaped into the flight path of Heathrow airport not far away. Police helicopters were called in to track its course, until it landed in a farm in Kent. The owner of the farm was apparently most annoyed that a giant Pig had frightened his cows !

Peter Watts is the author of “Up In Smoke” a book on Battersea Power Station. He is on record as saying he thinks possibly one of the  main reasons the power station has such worldwide recognition is due to it having appeared on the cover of the album in 1977.