This week, I headed off to see how my beloved Regents Canal (the stretch from Wenlock Basin to Islington via the City Road Lock) was doing - and although I was a bit disappointed, it was worth sharing the experience anyway.
As usual, you can't escape a tiny smattering of history on this blog. But the history of the canal has got so many interesting bits, I couldn't possibly do justice to it in one blog post. So, will suffice to inform those who do not know - the canal stretches from the Paddington arm of the Grand Union Canal in the north-west to the Limehouse basin and the Thames in the east. It was built in the early 1900's and was used primarily for the transport of goods. The City Road basin later became the most popular channel for goods transportation. And here's a small bit of history in a picture:
End of history lesson.
My own first encounter with Regents Canal was in 2006, when as a postgraduate student of city design, I was led to it after a shin-mutilating walk around London by my guide. Hidden behind the concrete monstrosities of the City and terraced housing for the most part, the sight of the canal that was almost straight out of the Enid Blytons I grew up reading, pleasantly surprised my aches away. This week, visiting the same spot after ages, I was shocked to see the spurt in construction activity around the Wenlock Basin. They've very nearly managed to kill the charm of the place. But that's not what this post is about. This is about the charm that still remains - the tunnels, for example.
Familiar? You might have seen him here earlier.
Moving on towards City Road basin, I was saddened by the loss of towpath width as they build some new luxury flats (seriously, who's buying them anymore?) overlooking the canal. Gone are the benches and the trees facing the Royle Building - in their place stands ugly scaffolding. Pah! But I was determined to focus on the good bits - the (understandably annoyed) ducks and most of all, the quirky houseboats that are moored along the way.
UPDATE: If you find London's canals an inspiration for tapping your creativity (like I do), you might want to join the Slowdown London Festival's Canal Write program on the 2nd of May. Check it out!