There were numerous complaints against the power station throughout its operational life. One of the earliest was lodged by William Shelfer, the landlord of the Waterman’s Arms public house. This became a test case in English law until 2014 (Shelfer v City of London Electrical Lighting Co (1895). Meux Brewery owned the Waterman’s Arms, a popular public house situated at 61 Bankside. Till the opening of the power station, Waterman’s had been a popular recreational destination for lightermen and their families. However, shortly after the power station opened in 1893, the Waterman’s Arms began to suffer serious structural damage, being less than 30 yards along the wharf from the power station. William Shelfer and his family’s health began to suffer and trade quickly fell back.
In 1894-95 William Shelfer and Meux Brewery took court proceedings against the CLELC for an injunction to prevent further development at the power station. Initially this was upheld but a short time later it was overturned on appeal and Waterman’s Arms was awarded damages, though these were negligible. Soon trade ceased; the Waterman’s Arms closed and was turned into the power station’s office. In law the case was frequently cited for over the next 100 years when judgement was required to decide whether damages or injunctions is the best outcome (“four good working rules”).