Posts Tagged ‘200th anniversary’

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.

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 200 coming up

Tuesday, December 10th, 2019

The Regent’s Canal celebrates its 200th birthday next year (or rather it doesn’t but people do.) The Grand Junction Canal Paddington Arm had opened in 1801, and in 1802 Thomas Homer proposed building a canal to link this with the River Thames at Limehouse. In 1811 John Nash who was building Regent’s Park became one of the directors of the new canal company, and he persuaded his friend the Prince Regent (who later became King George IV) to allow his name also to be used for the canal.

The Act of Parliament needed to build the canal was passed in 1812, but construction took some time, not least because Homer ran away with some of the money. He was caught and sentenced to seven years in Australia but for unknown reasons never sent there.

The canal was completed to Camden in 1816, and Islington tunnel in 1819 and the canal was finally opened on 1st August 1820, having cost by then twice the original estimate – some things never change.

Another of the problems had been a novel lift design by the inventor Sir Willliam Congreve which would have raised and lifted boats without the loss of water in a normal lock, using two sealed chambers to contain thee boats which were arranged to counterbalance each other.

Although the idea was sound, it needed better waterproof seals than were possible at the time, and modifications to Congreve’s designs made by the canal company increased the problems. The lock which had been constructed at Camden market apparently worked when first constructed but the canal company were unable to keep it operating, and it was eventually removed and replaced by a conventional design.

The lock house just west of Camden High Street was retained and is now a branch of Starbucks, equally unsuccesful in making good coffee, but excelling in avoiding paying tax.

I’ve been working for around 18 months taking photographs along the canal, which I first photographed around 1980, intending to show a small exhibition of them for the anniversary (and rather more online.)

I’d gone up to London to meet friends but they were unable to get there because of a trackside rail fire which put Waterloo out of action, and I took the opportunity to walk the section of the canal from St John’s Wood to Little Venice and then to go on down the Paddington Arm.

It wasn’t ideal weather for making these pictures and I might find time to go back and retake some of them under better conditions. There is rather a lot of vegetation in some too, and possibly some would be better in winter. Clearly some would benefit from cropping at the top (and possibly some at the bottom too) to give a more panoramic format.

St John’s Wood – Paddington Basin

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.

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