Posts Tagged ‘canal’

Grand Union, Seacole & Wassail

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2021

I like to get away from Central London and wander around some of the less visited areas of London, spaces which are far from the tourist trail and often in some way on the edge. And on Sunday February 2nd 2014 it was a fine day and I decided it would be good to take a walk around the area of Harlesden close to the Grand Union Canal and make some panoramic pictures on my way to Willesden Green where I’d been invited to photograph an event that afternoon.

I’d first walked around this area back in 1981, when I had discovered and begun to photograph the delights of London that could easily be reached by the North London Line from Richmond to Broad St. Since then I’d been back occasionally for various walks and events in the area. Brent is a borough that used to hold festivals celebrating its varied communities – until these had to be abandoned as the coalition and Tories cut local government spending so even the barest bones were tough to maintain.

The line from wealthy Richmond goes up north through Acton to Willesden Junction, which in typical railway fashion is not in Willesden but in Harlesden. I left the train there and began my walk on a footpath back beside the line through an industrial area to the canal.

I’d brought my lunch with me, and sat in the sun in the Mary Seacole memorial garden on the canal bank before continuing my walk. These panoramic images are too small to really appreciate on this blog, but you can see them – and quite a few others a bit larger on My London Diary in Harlesden, Willesden & Mary Seacole.

It was then time to head to Willesden Green, where the Willesden Green Wassail was about to take place, celebrating the many local shopkeepers who give Willesden Green its character and help to create a vibrant community, singing them a traditional wassail song, and with singers and poets performing on the street.

It was good to see a sizeable crowd of local residents had come out to take part in this community festival organised by Rachel Rose Reid, and you can find out more about it and see many more pictures of those taking part.

Back in 2014 I wrote:

As well as celebrating the shopkeepers, this “small free festival run by and for people from Willesden Green” as also a celebration of the work of all who live there and create the neighbourhood and brought together artists and volunteers from the area, including James Mcdonald, Berakah Multi Faith Choir, Poetcurious, Errol Mcglashan and several others, with more performing later after the wassail.

Willesden Wassail

The Wassail ended with several poetry performances opposite the library and then a final wassail at the cherry tree behind it, when everyone let off the party poppers and decorated the tree with ribbons – a reminder of the traditional wassail ceremonies when people made a lot of noise banging pans and firing guns in order to wake up the trees and get them going on producing large yields of apples – particulary for making cider.

We didn’t get cider, but we did get free hot soup at the Bar Gallery in Queens Parade where the festivities were to continue – but I had to leave to get home rather late for dinner.

Willesden Wassail
Harlesden, Willesden & Mary Seacole


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.


Around High St Stratford

Tuesday, January 19th, 2021

St Thomas's Creek, Cook's Road, Stratford, Newham, 1983 35q-34_2400
St Thomas’s Creek, Cook’s Road, Stratford, Newham, 1983

There is and long seems to have been some confusion about the naming of this part of the canal system that links the main line of the Lea Navigation at Bow Bridge to the City Mill River and City Mill Lock. On some maps (including Google’s) it is simply referred to as ‘Bow Back Rivers’ but I find it less confusing to give it the more local name, St Thomas’s Creek, sometimes written as St Thomas Creek. The creek got its name from St. Thomas’s Mill, sometimes called ‘Pudding Mill’, I think because of its shape, which also gave its name to the small stream the Pudding Mill River and was actually on that stream on Pudding Mill Lane. For those interested there is a good map of the area before the flood relief works of 1931-5 on British History Online.

Yardley's Box Factory, Stratford High St, Stratford, Newham, 198336m-63-positive_2400
Warton House, former Yardley’s Box Factory, High St, Stratford, 1983

The earliest connection of the Yardley name to soap-making was in the first half of the 17th century, when a Yardley was given the concession to produce soap for the whole of London, but the company dated its founding as ‘Clever Brothers’ to 1770. This company making soaps and perfumes was taken over by William Yardley in 1823 and passed on to his son Charles when he died the following year. The company moved from Bloomsbury to a large factory on Carpenters Road Stratford in 1904 and bought land on Stratford High St in 1918. In 1913 they had trade-marked a picture by Francis Wheatley from his 1793 series, the ‘Cries of London’ to use in their advertising, replacing the primroses in his picture by lavender, and when they built a new art deco box factory in 1938 this was installed at a large scale on the building. Yardleys moved to Basildon in 1966, needing large premises, but in 1967 were taken over by British American Tobacco who sold the business to Beecham in 1985, who again sold it on after they merged to be SmithKlein Beecham. The company went into receivership in 1998. Parts of the box factory – including this section on the High St next to the Northern Outfall Sewer and the Waterworks River are still there, all that is left of Yardley’s in Stratford.

Stratford High St area, Stratford, Newham, 1983 36m-14_2400
Stratford High St area, 1982

I cannot remember exactly where I took this or the next picture, though from other exposures on the same films both are clearly somewhere not far from Stratford High St. I think the canal seen at right here is probably St Thomas’s Creek.

Timber yard, Stratford, Newham, 1982 32v-22_2400
Timber yard, Stratford High St area, 1982

Timber was the main product carried on the Lea Navigation in the later years of its use, and I think this timber yard was probably close to the main stream of the navigation. My attempts to find it again in later years were unsuccesful.

Cafe, Stratford market, Stratford, Newham, 1983 36p-35_2400
Cafe, Stratford market, Stratford, Newham, 1983

The notices on the door offer not just ‘Jellied Eels’ but ‘Best Jellied Eels’, along with ‘Loch Fine Kippers’. My contact sheet puts its location as Stratford Market in Burford Road, just off High St to the south.

Barge, Lea Navigation, Bow Bridge, Bow Flyover, Tower Hamlets, Newham, 1981 29t-26p_2400
Barges, Bow Bridge, October 1981

These last two pictures were some of the first I took in the area after I heard on a radio interview that commercial traffic on the Lea Navigation was to come to an end in a few weeks time.

I think it was the same day that I picked up my camera bag and got on the train to come to look for and photograph any remaining activity. It was a slow journey to Bromley-by-Bow from where I spent an hour or so walking along beside the navigation between Bow Locks and Bow Bridge, where I found three barges loaded with cut timber, photographing all three from the bridge and going down onto the wharf for another picture.

Barge, Lea Navigation, Bow Bridge, Tower Hamlets, Newham, 1981 29t-25_2400
Barges, Bow Bridge, October 1981

I find it hard now to understand why I took so few pictures – only around 30 exposures on the entire visit, and just these two where I found evidence of any remaining commercial traffic.

More pictures from the area on page 3 of my Flickr album River Lea – Lea Navigation 1981-1992.


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.


Ponders End & Edmonton

Monday, December 7th, 2020

Lea Navigation, Brimsdown, Ponders End, 1983 34m-22_2400

I’m not sure why the name Ponders End so appeals to me. It has a rather down to earth quality (or perhaps down to water) which is apparently reflected in its etymology, stretching back over 600 years to the Ponder family, with a John Ponder being recorded as far back as 1373. He or his family apparently got their name because they kept or lived by a fishpond or mill pond on the River Lea. Ponders End was their end of Edmonton.

Lea Navigation, Ponders End, 1983 34m-23_2400

The River Lea was important for the movement of people and goods from the earliest times and was improved for navigation at various times in the middle ages; later the first modern gated lock on a river was built at Waltham Abbey in 1577 and the basis of the current Lea Navigation – including the Limehouse Cut – were laid in the 1770s, though there were further improvements well into the 20th century. You can read more on Wikipedia. In recent convention the spelling Lea is used for the river and natural features, and Lee for those man-made features such as the navigation but I tend to use Lea for both.

Lea Navigation, Ponders End, 1983 34m-24_2400

Because of its good transport links to London, industry began to arrive here in the 19th century, with wharves along the canal. Later with the growth of motorised transport development became centred along the Great Cambridge Road, the A10, a short distance to the west, particularly after its improvement in the 1930s. When I took these pictures back in 1983 the area was full of factories, but many were derelict, their demise accelerated by Thatcher’s national flight from manufacturing – something which was at the centre of my recording of out post-industrial landscape

Lea Navigation, Brimsdown, Ponders End, 1983 34m-32_2400

The area had turned its back on the canal where all commercial traffic had ceased a couple of years earlier, but many of the structures were still present. Now almost all have been replaced by warehousing and some residential development. In later years I photographed around the little that remained, including Wright’s Flour Mill, parts of which date from the 18th century.

Lea Navigation, Brimsdown, Ponders End, 1983 34m-36_2400

Back in 1983, there was no GPS and it was hard to determine the exact location of the pictures I took as I walked beside the navigation, and I made few records that would help. In a few pictures it is possible to see features which still exist, particularly the tall blocks of council flats close to Ponders End station.

Thorn Lighting, Edmonton, 1983 37e-34_2400

The last two pictures are of one of Edmonton’s best known and largest industries, Thorn Lighting. Julius Thorn opened his Atlas Lamp Works Ltd in Edmonton in 1932, and later at the start of the war a second factory in Tottenham. The company is now part of the Austrian company Zumtobel. I think that these two pictures are part of their Angel Road site. The main production moved from here to Merthyr Tydfil soon after the Second Wolrd War, but speciality lamps were produced here until around the late 1960s.

Thorn Lighting, Edmonton, 1983 37e-35_2400

More pictures in River Lea – Lea Navigation 1981-1992 on Flickr. Click on any of the pictures above to go to a larger version in that album, where you can also comment on the pictures.


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.


More from the Lea: Enfield

Saturday, December 5th, 2020

Enfield, 1983 34y-16_2400
Enfield, 1983

I’ve now put more photographs in my Flickr album River Lea – Lea Navigation 1981-1992 to add pictures from Broxbourne to the River Thames to my earlier uploads.

Enfield Lock, 1983 34y-35 (2)_2400
Enfield Lock

I’ve gone through the contact sheets from 1981-3 and selected and digitised a few more pictures I found of interest to add to those I’d scanned preparing for earlier shows, but I think there are pictures from some of the later years in that period I may add later.

Lea Navigation, Brimsdown, Ponders End, 1983 34n-52_2400

But for the moment this album is complete – with 418 pictures. Because I made these on a number of different visits to the area, it was difficult to put them into sensible order – and a few are still obviously in the wrong place. But I’ve tried to put them at least largely in order as the valley leads down to the River Thames at Leamouth.

Lea Navigation, Brimsdown, Ponders End, 1983 34n-41_2400

Back in 1981-3 I was not too concerned with the exact locations of the pictures, and my contact sheets seldom have little indication except for the contents of the pictures. I can no longer find the notebooks in which I wrote about the project, though a few of the vintage prints have locations on them and a couple even grid references. I’ve tried to give locations on Flickr, and already a few viewers have been able to help me on this, and correcting a few mistakes I made. Corrections and comments are always welcome, and clicking on any of the images in this post will take you to a larger version where you can post comments.

Broxbourne, 1983 37d-55_2400

So, for example, this picture I’ve captioned simply ‘Broxbourne, Herts, 1983‘ but I could be quite wrong. It could be Cheshunt or somewhere else. And I’d be happy to be told exactly where it is. It’s easier to remember pictures further south as I’m more familiar with the area, though thanks to some who have already corrected a few of my confusions such as mistaking the Clapham Park flats for the Trowbridge Estate.

Lea Navigation, Brimsdown, Ponders End, 1983 34n-42_2400

Most of the pictures in today’s post are from Enfield, Ponders End or Brimsdown, in the London Borough of Enfield, where a large industrial area is located to the west of the canal. I think most of the structures I photographed back then have since been replaced.

Lea Navigation, Brimsdown, Ponders End, 1983 34m-14_2400

In a later post I’l post more selected pictures from Ponders End and Edmonton and then further south. But you can see them already at Flickr album River Lea – Lea Navigation 1981-1992.


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.


More Marylebone 1987

Thursday, August 20th, 2020
Marylebone Station, Marylebone, London, 1987 87-5d-36-positive_2400
Marylebone Station

I suppose for many people Marylebone is the name of a station (though some will connect it more with its cricket club.) The station was the last London terminus to be built, opened in 1899 and never completed, with only four platforms of eight ever built. It lost most of its express services in 1960 and was only saved from closure and demolition by a thriving commuter service from Aylesbury. I think the train here must be one of those used on that route. Marylebone provided one of the few successes of the privatisation of British Rail, generally a triumph of dogma over sense, with the setting up in 1996 of Chiltern Railways. Among other services they provide a pleasant route to stations to Birmingham with comfortable trains and some very cheap tickets, part of the old ‘Great Central’ Network which could probably have been revived much more sensibly and at far lower cost than the ridiculous HS2 project.

Regents Canal, Maida Hill Tunnel entrance, Lisson Grove, Westminister, 1987 87-4d-21-positive_2400

I had wrongly captioned this image earlier, thinking it showed the mouth of the Maida Hill tunnel, but although it was taken very close to there it is actually looking away from it, and the black hole at the end of the water is the bridge under Lisson Grove. The tunnel is hidden from my view here, some way down and a few yards to the right of where I was standing.

Entrance, Maida Hill Tunnel, Regent's Canal, Lisson Grove, Westminster, 1977 87-5c-41-positive_2400

I went down the steps leading to the canal towpath and took a picture of a boat entering the tunnel. The previous image shows the top of the structure crossing the canal over the mouth of the tunnel which carries electrical cables from the nearby Grove Road power station in St. John’s Wood which closed in 1969 – with the site now housing two major National Grid sub-stations.

There is no towpath in the 249m long tunnel, which is only wide enough for a single narrow boat; boats have to wait at the entrance until the tunnel is clear.

Regent's Canal, Lisson Grove, Westminster, 1977 87-5c-54-positive_2400

Here you see the canal under the cable bridge.

CEGB,  Lodge Rd, St John's Wood, Westminster, 1987 87-5c-45-positive_2400

And this is the long wall of the power station site in Lodge Road. Although it looks very forbidding I’m told it was – at least in the old days – a very pleasant place to work. Coal used to come to the power station from a siding off the lines into Marylebone Station, though possibly at some time it also came by canal.

Volkswagen, Lodge Rd, St John's Wood, Westminster, 1987 87-5c-46-positive_2400

The Volkswagen workshops were opposite, and a little further west on the south side of the canal were the works of the confusingly named Thames Bank Iron Company, Iron Founders and Heating Engineers who made radiators and other heating equipment, and, according to their lorry parked in front of the building next to some pipes, Drainage Systems.

Thames Bank Iron Company, Lisson Grove, Westminster, 1977 87-5c-43-positive_2400

The pictures show a rather different side of Marylebone – and indeed London – than we now normally think of. They are a stone’s throw from the leafy streets of St John’s Wood with its billionaire oligarchs and from Lords Cricket Ground. But until a few years before I made these pictures, London was very much a manufacturing city. Things had been changing for some years, but it was Thatcher that really put the boot in, moving the country away from manufacturing and into services. And this de-industrialisation was one of the themes behind my pictures of a post-industrial London.

More pictures on page 4 of my 1987 London Photos.


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.

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


Paddington Arm 1987

Tuesday, August 18th, 2020
Paddington Arm, Regents Canal, Westway, Paddington, Westminster, 1987 87-4a-23-positive_2400
Paddington Arm, Regents Canal, Westway, Paddington, Westminster, 1987

You can just see the canal through the open hatch and across the galley area of the narrow-boat Crystal closest to the camera, but the view struck me as a remarkable interlocking of the boats, roads and buildings, different eras of construction and transport. The Westway here sits on top of the Harrow Road bridge over the canal, the Paddington Arm of the Grand Union which was opened in 1801. (Confusingly there is a separate Harrow Road bridge across the canal a hundred yards northwest and yet another a kilometre further on.) At right we have the concrete architecture built for the road operations of British Rail in 1968-9, around the same time as the Westway which opened in 1970. Its building made very clear the tremendous damage that building urban motorways caused to the city.

Footbridge, Lord Hill's Rd, Westbourne Green, Westminster, 1987 87-4b-12-positive_2400
Footbridge, Lord Hill’s Rd, Westbourne Green, Westminster, 1987

There was just something zany about this view that appealed to me, with the smooth curve of the metal lamp support and the jagged line of the concrete bridge., and the two circular objects, lamp and mirror and that dagger of a church spire with its cross.

Regents Canal, Little Venice, Westminster, 1987 87-4b-23-positive_2400
Regents Canal, Little Venice, Westminster, 1987

A rather more conventional view of the canal and a canal bridge, though I did deliberately include in the foreground those rails and slope leading to nowhere. This is the bridge at the west end of Little Venice, and takes Westbourne Terrace Road across to Blomfield Rd at the right of the picture. Google Maps names this place as the Little Venice ‘Ferry Terminal’.

Footbridge,Blomfield Rd, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1987 87-4b-26-positive_2400
Footbridge,Blomfield Rd, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1987

The north end of the footbridge in a picture above, which linked Lord Hills Road and Blomfield Rd. Here I took a simpler approach to its concrete edge, making it a jagged diagonal, emphasized by the handrails. On one side of it the graffiti, to its right the regularity of the houses, probably dating from around 1850, in Blomfield Rd. The footbridge has since been replaced by a rather less interesting metal bridge.

The Blomfields came over with William the Conqueror in 1066, their name deriving from the village of Blonville-sur-Mer in Calvados, Normandy. There were many of them by the 19th century when this road was named, and among them several bishops, well-known architects etc. I suspect it was named after Charles James Blomfield (1786 – 1857)  who was Bishop of London from 1828 until he resigned due to ill health in 1856.

Regents Canal, Blomfield Rd, Little Venice, Westminster, 1987 87-4b-43-positive_2400
Regents Canal, Blomfield Rd, Little Venice, Westminster, 1987
Regents Canal, Blomfield Rd, Little Venice, Westminster, 1987 87-4b-44-positive_2400

This area next to the Westbourne Terrace Road bridge and opposite the Canal Offices used to be home to a strange collection of stone works, but these were removed and for some years this was just an empty patch of grass. It is now a ‘wildlife refuge’, not for big game like those here, but, thanks to Edward Wilson Primary School, is The Bug Hotel, Bloomfield Garden.

Regents Canal, Blomfield Rd, Little Venice, Westminster, 1987 87-4b-45-positive_2400
Regents Canal, Blomfield Rd, Little Venice, Westminster, 1987
Westway, Regents Canal, Westbourne Grove, Westminster, 1987 87-4c-22-positive_2400
Westway, Regents Canal, Westbourne Grove, Westminster, 1987

Finally my young assistant takes a rest (and a photograph) by the canal underneath the Westway.

All pictures were taken in April 1987 and are from my Flickr album 1987 London Photos which now contains over 700 photographs.


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.

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Hull Colour 2

Friday, July 10th, 2020

A look at a few more of my colour pictures from Hull in the 1970s.

Paint, Hull 70shull077
Paint, Hull 1970s

I made a number of exposures of this wall, which I think was possibly at one of the dry docks on Dock Office Row, though my memory may be at fault. I often walked up High St from Clarence St next to Drypool Bridge and then on to Wincolmlee, sometimes continuing on up to Bankside or Air St, where I could walk west and across towards my parents-in-law’s house just off Chanterlands Ave north.

I was attracted by the colour but also by the mix of the accidental and deliberate in the markings on the wall. Like quite of few of the other images, time has added its mark to this picture, with some patches of blue which I haven’t entirely managed to retouch where mould has attacked the dyes.

Hull 70shull083
Hull 1970s – a distant view of Saltend

I can’t recall at all taking this picture, and another also taken from a similarly rural viewpoint with the chemical works in the distance. From the view I think it is taken from somewhere on the west edge of Hedon, perhaps on a walk from Hull to Paull.

But when or wherever it was made, its an image I like for its contrast, both visually and between the agricultural and industrial.

Weighton Lock, Broomfleet, 72-80-Hull-005
Weighton Lock, Broomfleet, 1970s

In contrast I remember our family walk which took us to Weighton Lock well. If you have travelled my rail from Selby or Doncaster to Hull, your train will have sped through Broomfleet, and you may just have seen a station there.

The man in the ticket office at Hull Paragon station seemed surprised when we asked for tickets to Broomfleet, but trains do stop there. Now you have a choice of the 07:19 or the 16:21 – but then there were rather more though I think we did have to tell the guard we wanted to stop there – and to hold our our hands for the returning train.

The lock is where the Market Weighton Canal joins the River Humber. Opened in 1782, the canal was both a navigable waterway and a drainage ditch. The upper section was closed around 1900 and the lower few miles to the lock abandoned in 1971. The Market Weighton Civic Trust managed to save the lock by getting it listed as an ancient monument, and it was repaired and reopened although there is no right to navigation around six of its original nine and a half miles remain navigable.

A few other pictures in the album are also from trips we made from Hull, including to Flamborough.

Guildhall Rd, Hull 72-80-Hull-008
Guildhall Rd, Hull, 1970s

Until ‘The Dock’ was opened in 1778, ships coming to Hull moored the the ‘Old Harbour’ in the River Hull, where staithes still run from the High St to the river. The dock was the largest dock in the UK when it was built, and soon became known as the ‘Old Dock’, but was renamed Queen’s Dock in honour of the visit to Hull by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1854.

By the 1920s it was redundant, with docks on the Humber – Victoria Dock, Albert Dock, Alexandra Dock, Riverside Quay and King George Dock – forming the port of Hull, and it finally closed in 1930. The city bought it and filled it in to create Queen’s Gardens. Filling it took four years – one year longer than its construction and provided some employment during a period of recession.

I’m not sure exactly where these former warehouses on the south side of Queens Dock (Queens Gardens) in Guildhall Road were, but from the street sign I think they were just to the west of Quay St and have since been demolished.

River Hull, Hull 72-80-Hull-011
River Hull, Hull from North Bridge

I added the following text to a black and white image on my Hull photos web site taken from just a foot or two to the left of this image:

Peeling paint on a wall advertises the coal and sand wharf belonging to ‘Henry’, which I think may be Henry Mead & Co at 15 Lime Street, which was wound up in 1973. On the west bank of the Hull are a long line of wharves and buildings on Wincolmlee, with the towering silos of R&W Paul (now Maizecor) in the distance. A single vessel is visible moored at one of the Lime St wharves.
 
Floods from the Hull, mainly because of a tides coming up from the Humber, were fairly frequent before the tidal barrier was built, because the corporation failed to get wharf owners to maintain adequate flood defences. A number of derelict properties made their job more difficult. More recent floods have been because of excessive rainfall in the Hull valley.

Apart from the Maizecor silo, none of the buildings visible in this slide are still standing.

Sunday afternoon Sheffield

Friday, March 20th, 2020

We found ourselves at Sheffield station a couple of hours before our train was due to leave – as usual we had booked Advance tickets that were only valid on a particular service to save ourselves a small fortune on the journey, but hadn’t been sure when exactly we would be able to travel.

Rail fares in the UK are a crazy system which has become much worse since rail privatisation, leaving us with a system where standard fares are the highest per mile in the world, thanks largely to rail companies owned by foreign governments and dodgy capitalists all hugely subsidised by the UK taxpayer.

It’s now hard to find what the standard price is, but for the journey we were undertaking I think around £85 each. But then there are Off-peak, Super Off-peak and advance tickets, these latter often being sold at various prices depending on how far in advance you book. The whole system is more like a lottery than a ticketing system and is seldom understood even by those who sell the tickets. But by advance booking and taking a slightly slower route (including a 55 minute wait in Birmingham) we were able to get the price down to less than a third of the standard fare, even without going into any of the complex methods involving split ticketing and other dodges that have spawned an new web industry.

It truly is a crazy system, and at times it’s better for us to book from London rather than our suburban station, with at times a 200 mile journey into the city actually costing less than the tube across London and the 19 miles to our local station.

One of Labour’s more popular policies at the last election was the re-nationalisation of the railways, but unfortunately it was an election fought on ‘getting Brexit done’ rather than so many more important policies. And so we ended with a government pledged to get us out of Europe, but with no comprehension of the other desperately needed changes in policy, nor the ability to make any realy sensible deal over Brexit, with too many among it committed to a ‘no deal’exit. And which is now proving itself utterly incapable of handling a global pandemic.

Back to October in Sheffield, Linda saw the wait as an opportunity to indulge her tea-room obsession and led us off towards one in the canal basin, but unfortunately it had closed down since she was last there. There was a pub open, but that wasn’t what she required, and after some discussion and a short walk around the area we retired back to the station where she was at least able to buy a takeaway tea and cake.

I would happily have had a rather longer walk around and would probably have avoided Victoria Quays, which I’ve photographed on several previous occasions.

Quite a few more pictures, both of the canal basin and from the walk there and back to the station at Sheffield, Yorkshire.


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.


Regents Canal 200

Friday, February 14th, 2020

If you are in London next month you are invited to the private view of the exhibition ‘2020 Vision – Vistas and Views’ at The Street Gallery, University College Hospital, 235 Euston Road, London, NW1 2BU. The gallery is along an area at the front of the hospital – turn right immediately you go through the main entrance – and will be on show until 22nd April 2020.

As well as paintings by Hilary Rosen the show includes a dozen pictures from a project I’ve been working on when I’ve had time over the past year, ‘Regents Canal 200‘.

The Regent’s Canal, which runs from Little Venice on the Paddington Arm of the Grand Union Canal to Limehouse Dock was completed and opened in 1820, 200 years ago this year. There are other, more official, celebrations later in the year but I began this project in complete ignorance of these.

I’ve photographed the Regent’s Canal occasionally over the years since the late 1970s, and have hundreds or probably thousands of pictures from it, both in black and white and colour. But since space is limited in the gallery I will only be showing a small selection of the several hundred colour panoramas I’ve made over the past year.

Please RSVP to Laura Bradshaw – laura.bradshaw7@nhs.net 020 3447 7146 – though you will be welcome anyway, and Hilary and I will be pleased to see you there. If you want to print out a copy of the invitation you can open it as a PDF.


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.

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