Posts Tagged ‘200 years’

Regents Canal 200

Sunday, April 19th, 2020

For various reasons it took rather longer than expected to build the Regent’s Canal around the north of London, joining the Grand Union Canal Paddington Arm to the River Thames at Limehouse, but the full length was finally opened in 1820, two hundred years ago this year.

Having realised this anniversary was approaching, early in 2019 I began a series of pictures to celebrate it, and had been intending to present these in a small show I was to have along with an artist friend, Hilary Rosen, at the Street Gallery in University College Hospital London.

The show was to have opened on 19th March this year, but a few days before we realised that it would be impossible because of the Coronavirus pandemic. We had to cancel the opening, but then it became clear to us that it would not be sensible to invite people to go to a hospital to look at an exhibition, and told the gallery that it had to be postponed. A few days later, the government realised they had to do something too, and on March 23 imposed the lockdown.

I’d picked just a dozen images for this show, but had taken hundreds if not thousands in preparation. I’d had the pictures printed and had spent a day mounting and framing them on the Sunday before the show was to start, but simply had to take them back up into my loft rather than to be hung at the gallery.

In making my selection I’d obviously wanted to show what I thought were the best images, but also to show work along the length of the canal from its start at Little Venice to its end at Regent’s Canal Dock (now Limehouse Dock marina.) My preliminary selection included several images from some of the more interesting areas, as well as a few from other places that didn’t make the final cut.

Rather than go back and make a new selection for an on-line presentation I’ve decided to simply put the 42 from my preliminary selection on-line, and to do so on Flickr, where they are displayed at a higher resolution than on Facebook or my own web site (where I think most or all have already appeared at smaller size.)

The images appear in two different aspect ratios, though they all have more or less the same horizontal angle of view, roughly equivalent to the full human binocular field of clear vision. Some are cropped at top and bottom, enabling me to move the horizon away from the centre line and to avoid the more extreme curvature at the edges which the necessary non-rectilinear perspective needed for such extreme angles of view dictates.

You can see them at Regents Canal 200 on Flickr.

C-type prints from the exhibition were to be on sale unframed and printed with images 42×22 cm or 36×24 cm (and a white border) at £200. For this online show they can be ordered direct from 6me at half this price, £100, including postage and packing to the UK. Overseas orders will cost a little more.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

Regent’s Canal Camden

Wednesday, January 29th, 2020

200 years ago the Regent’s Canal was opened. In some respects it was like HS2 today, cutting travel times, though for goods, providing a more direct link between London’s Docks and the canal system which served Birmingham and much of the rest of England. Perhaps more importantly it brought coal and building materials into the centre of London at City Road Basin, and other basins and Samuel Plimsoll’s (remembered for his line) coal drops north of King’s Cross.

And like HS2 it came in late (though at the moment it is still doubtful if HS2 will come in at all, and it certainly will never deliver what was promised.)

The canal was first proposed in 1802, but only got Parliamentary approval in 1812, after it had been adopted by the Prince Regent (later George IV) and John Nash as a part of their scheme for redeveloping Regent’s Park.

Like HS2, the canal had its controversies and problems. In 1815 Thomas Homer, who had first proposed the canal and remained in charge with Nash although neither knew anything about building canals, was found to have stolen company funds and was sentenced to transportation (though it appears the sentence was never carried out.) The first length of the canal, from Little Venice to Camden was completed and opened on the birthday of the Prince Regent in August 1816, but there wasn’t enough money to complete the rest.

The government came to the rescue with the Poor Employment Act of 1817, designed to give work to those unemployed after the end of the war against Napoleon, which provided cheap labour so the scheme could continue.

There were technical problems too, particularly with at Hampstead Road, where a hydro-pneumatic boat lift had been built to an innovative design by William Congreve (better known for his military rockets.) Designed to save water, as the canal had problems with water supply, although the design worked when first installed it quickly broke down when handed over to the canal company, possibly because the materials then available for pneumatic seals were not up to prolonged use. There was a lengthy and acrimonious dispute between the inventor and the canal company, who eventually replaced the lift with a two chamber conventional lock as used elsewhere on the canal.

Also like HS2, there were huge cost increases. The canal eventually cost £772,000 which was twice the original estimate.

I’d begun my walk at Camden Road station, walking from there through the Maiden Lane estate and new developments to York Way where I met a colleague with whom I will be having an exhibition in March 2020. My contribution to the joint show will be a set of around a dozen pictures commemorating the canal anniversary. We made our way together along the towpath to Kentish Town Rd, with several stops where she sat down to sketch and I wandered around making photographs. After leaving her I walked on to Cumberland Basin before returning to Camden Road station.

Many more pictures and displayed large on My London Diary at Camden, Kings X & Regent’s Canal


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.