Posts Tagged ‘Hampstead Road Locks’

Camden and more, 1987

Wednesday, August 12th, 2020
Gilbey House, Regents Canal, Camden, 1987 87-3a-36-positive_2400
Gilbey House, Regents Canal, Camden, 1987

This view will be familiar to the millions of people who flock to Camden Lock, now one of London’s main tourist attractions. The Gilbey brothers who had volunteered to go abroad to work in a hospital during the Crimean War returned to London and set up a wine and spirit business in 1857. As wines from France and elsewhere on the continent had to pay heavy duties they successfully promoted wines from the British Empire, particularly the Cape. The duties on continental wines were lowered in 1861 and Gilbey’s sold those as well, supplying the off-licences which grocers had been allowed to open by Gladstone in 1860.

Gilbey House, Regents Canal, Camden, 1987 87-3a-12-positive_2400
Gilbey House, Regents Canal, Camden, 1987

They added other drinks, sherry, port, whisky and in 1872 Gilbey’s London Dry Gin which made their name familiar in Britain and throughout the Empire. They built their gin distillery in Camden and soon had a large area of offices and stores around Oval Rd. But in 1962, following various mergers, Gilbey’s left Camden and moved to Harlow New Town.

Popbeat Records, Stucley Place, Camden, 1987 87-3b-06-positive_2400
Popbeat Records, Stucley Place, Camden, 1987

Stucley Place is just a few yards from the now often crowded Camden High St, just behind The Elephant’s Head. I think it had already become a rather trendy area by 1987, a stone’s throw from the TV AM studios in Hawley Crescent.

TV AM, Hawley Crescent, Camden, 1987 87-3b-05-positive_2400
TV AM, Hawley Crescent, Camden, 1987

This was the street side of the building, probably rather better known for the eggs in egg cups on the canal side of the former Henlys building. To me it seemed peculiarly tacky.

Bridge, Regents Canal, Camden, 1987 87-3a-34-positive_2400
Bridge, Regents Canal, Camden, 1987

The bridge and locks are still there, and are now pretty much tourist central, and even back in 1987 there are still quite a few people visible if you look closely. But it might now be difficult to get just 3 pairs of people actually on the bridge.

These locks held up the opening of the canal for several years as originally they were built in 1814 as boat lifts to conserve water. Sir William Congreve, who had developed many novel ideas, but was best known for the rockets he made for military use, designed a hydro-pneumatic canal lift with twin caissons. The canal company modified his designs and they were built by Henry Maudslay and Co. The lifts worked for a few months, though they were difficult to operate, but soon failed when they were handed over to the canal company. Following angry arguments with the three parties each blaming the others, the Regent’s Canal company decided to replace them with the conventional locks now present.

Undoubtedly had they been built to the original designs there would have been fewer problems, but the manufacturing tolerances and sealing materials of the day would have made them unreliable and needed frequent maintenance. It was a great idea but many years ahead of its time.

The Cleveland, Post Office Tower, Cleveland St, Fitzrovia, E=Westminster, Camden, 1987 87-3a-54-positive_2400
The Cleveland, Post Office Tower, Cleveland St, Fitzrovia, Westminster, Camden, 1987

Two rather curious buildings in the same picture. The Cleveland Pub later became a restaurant and then a bar, remaining in use until around 2015 and was demolished I think in 2019. The Post Office Tower is still there.

Langham Works, Great Portland St, Westminster, 1987 87-3a-63-positive_2400
Langham Works, Great Portland St, Westminster, 1987

The 13.8 acres of the Langham Estate stretch from the Euston Road to Oxford St in an area property developers call ‘Noho’, but everyone else knows as Fitzrovia. In 2008 when billionaire tax exiles the Candy brothers named the block of flats they were developing on the former Middlesex Hospital site Noho Square, local residents responded with a “say no to Noho” petition.

Although my contact sheet places this building on Great Portland St, I cannot now find it on the street. It may have been demolished, or possibly I had wandered down a side street and not noted the fact. Please let me know if you recognise it somewhere.

University of Westminster, New Cavendish St, Westminster, 1987 87-3a-65-positive_2400
University of Westminster, New Cavendish St, Westminster, 1987

In 1970 the Regent Street Polytechnic became the Polytechnic of Central London, one of 30 new polytechnics formed in 1970 awarding degrees from the Council of National Academic Awards. It became the University of Westminster in 1992. This building is still at 115 Cavendish St, though it has added an extra floor since I took this picture in 1987. In the background of this picture you can see the Post Office Tower.


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.