Posts Tagged ‘Paddington Arm’

1987: Paddington & Maida Vale

Thursday, October 15th, 2020
Paddington Arm, Grand Union Canal, Paddington Station, Bishop's Bridge Rd, Paddington, Westminster, 1987 87-7l-32-positive_2400

The view from the bridge on Bishop’s Bridge Road is now rather different with the building over the canal having been replaced by a footbridge and an new entrance to Paddington station now obscuring the front of the station. You can still see the GWR Hotel and the canal, but the empty towpath has been much tidied and is now often thronged by people.

Paddington Basin and the area around the canal leading to it has been fairly dramatically redeveloped with tall blocks and leisure activities. There were few boats moving back when I took this picture and I think the rescue one in this picture was the only one I saw, though there may have been a few kayaks. Now the canal is rather busier, with small electric boats a popular but not cheap hire.

The bridge I was standing on was replaced by a wider modern bridge in 2006; shortly before it had been discovered that Brunel’s original 1839 iron bridge was still in place hidden under the 1906 structure – though its cast iron beams were clearly visible below. It was Brunel’s first iron bridge and of important historical and engineering interest but English Heritage agreed not to list it as it would have considerably affected the replacement plans; instead it was carefully dismantled and put into store on the understading it would be rebuilt for use as a footbridge across the canal around a hundred yards to the north.

Although planning permission was granted for this it never happened and the parts remain in a rather messy heap at English Heritage’s store at Fort Cumberland in Portsmouth, probably because the developers of the area preferred a nice modern and probably much cheaper design. Other former canalside artifacts removed at the same time with similar promises appear to have simply been lost, but the bridge was perhaps too large for that to happen.

Bishop’s Bridge Road only got its name after the Second World War, before which it had been simply Bishop’s Road, developed around the time the railway was built in 1836, replacing an earlier footpath. The Bishop was rather earlier, the manor of Paddington being given to Nicholas Ridley, Bishop of London by Edward VI around 1550.

Pentecost, Assembly of God, Harrow Rd, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1987 87-7l-33-positive_2400
Assembly of God Pentecostal Church, Harrow Rd, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1987

The Assembly of God Central Pentecostal Church on Harrow Road survived until 2015 on the edge of a huge area of high-rise development in North Paddington, but has now gone. It had moved to the ground floor of this building from the Edgware Road in 1946, and was relocated at a temporary site in Tresham Crescent in 2015 while Westminster Council built Dudley House, completed in November 2019. This provides 197 homes at ‘intermediate rent’ as well as new premises for the church, a secondary boy’s school and shops.

North Wharf Rd, Paddington, Westminster, 1987 87-7l-34-positive_2400
North Wharf Rd, Paddington, Westminster, 1987

You can see the curiously ugly QEQM (Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother) building of Paddington’s Queen Mary’s Hospital towering above these simple but rather elegant buildings on North Wharf Road. That is still there but these buildings are long gone, replaced by towering glass fronted structures which now line Paddington Basin.

The redevelopment of this area, part of ‘Paddington Waterside’ began in the late 1990s and is now more or less complete, filled with high rise buildings. You can now stroll along beside the canal on both banks, while back in 1987 access was very limited. But the whole atmosphere of the area has changed. Although open to the public I think most or all of the open space is privately owned and some photographers, myself included, have been stopped taking pictures by security officers around Paddington Basin.

Warwick Avenue, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1987 87-7l-43-positive_2400
Warwick Avenue, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1987

Green Lane was named Warwick Rd on a plan made in 1827 and later became Warwick Avenue. There were some houses on it by 1840 and most of the rest were built shortly after, all rather grand and in an Italian style and covered in stucco. Many like this one which overlooks the canal basin at Little Venice are listed. The name ‘Warwick’ came from Jane Warwick of Warwick Hall, in Warwick-on-Eden in Cumbria, who in 1778 married the great-grandson of Sir John Frederick who had leased the land from the Bishop of London.

Just a few yards from the more industrial area around the canal at Paddington, this is at the southern edge of Maida Vale, an area which attracted many of the wealthier members of London’s Jewish population in the late nineteenth century.

Clifton Gardens, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1987 87-7l-51-positive_2400
Clifton Gardens, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1987

In the twentieth century parts of Maida Vale became one of London’s more respectable red-light areas. Large houses which were too expensive went into multi-occupation, let out as single rooms, usually sharing kitchens and bathrooms, and often became very run-down. Disruption of families by war and high levels of unemployment forced some women onto the streets where they would walk along keys dangling from their hands and invite passing gentlemen to take tea with them, though tea was apparently seldom served. But more recently the area has gone up in the world considerably again, and semidetached houses in the area sell for £5m or more.

Blomfield Rd, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1987 87-7l-55-positive_2400
Blomfield Rd, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1987

In 1805 Napoleon had defeated both Austrian and Russian armies at Austerlitz and forced Austria to sign a peace treaty and he had also made peace with Prussia. This left him free to try to conquer more of Italy and in particular the Kingdom of Naples, which despite a treaty of neutrality with France had allowed both Russian and British troops to land. Napoleon rapidly advanced and conquered much of that kingdom, with the King and government fleeing to Sicily along with the British troops. A British expeditionary force returned at the end of June to Calabria where there was an insurrection against the French occupation and on 4th July engaged with French forces at Maida.

Warrington Crescent, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1987 87-7l-63-positive_2400
Warrington Crescent, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1987

The battle was was on a relatively small scale with around 5,000 troops on each side and only lasted a few hours before the French who had suffered heavy losses during a cavalry charge against superior British guns and muskets were forces to retreat in considerable disarray. The British commander, John Stuart, was given the title Count of Maida by the Italians and a pension of £1000 a year by the UK parliament as well as being made a Knight of the Bath.

Clifton Gardens, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1987 87-7l-65-positive_2400
Clifton Gardens, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1987

The victory on land against Napoleon’s forces who had been so successful elsewhere gave Britain a much-needed boost in morale, and gave both Maida Vale and Maida Hill their names.

There is now a pub in Shirland Rd named for Stuart, The Hero of Maida, but it was not built until 1878 and was then The Shirland Hotel, later becoming Idlewild and in 2014 the Truscott Arms. Opened under new owners in 2018 it was re-named ‘The Hero of Maida’.

You can see more of my pictures of London in 1987 on 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.


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.


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.


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.

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.