Historically a part of Surrey, the area takes its name from the old village of Battersea, an island settlement established in the river delta of the Falconbrook; a river that rises in Tooting Bec Common and flows underground through south London to the River Thames. The site of the original settlement is marked by St. Mary's Church by Battersea Square.
In 1929, construction started on Battersea Power Station, being completed in 1939. From the late 18th century to comparatively recent times, Battersea, and certainly north Battersea, was established as an industrial area.
Battersea was radically altered by the coming of railways. The London and Southampton Railway Company was the first to drive a railway line from east to west through Battersea, in 1838, terminating at Nine Elms at the North West tip of the area. Over the next 22 years five other lines were built, across which all trains from Waterloo Station and Victoria Station ran. An interchange station was built in 1863 towards the north west of the area, at a junction of the railway. Taking the name of a fashionable village a mile and more away, the station was named Clapham Junction.