Posts Tagged ‘panoramas’

A Busy 10th October – 2014

Sunday, October 10th, 2021

Solidarity for Care UK Strikers

NSSN, TUSC and Southwark Unison protested at the Care UK offices in Southwark during the nation-wide day of solidarity with Doncaster Care UK workers who had been on strike for 81 days after huge cuts in pay and services by a private equity company taking over a part of the NHS, part of the continuing largely hidden privatisation of our NHS.

This protest was one of many around the country outside offices of Care UK and Bridgepoint, the private equity firm that owns Care UK, as well as at shops including branches of Fat Face and Pret a Manger also owned by Bridgepoint. As I wrote:

Their strike is not just about their own cuts in wages, but a stand against the principles involved and the whole idea of a values-based health service. The workers at Care UK are no longer able to proudly address the needs of those with learning disorders in their own community, but are simply required to meet minimum needs at the lowest possible cost – and the greatest profit to Bridgepoint and the company to which they will be sold on once the private equity company has slimmed services and pay to the bone.

Solidarity for Care UK Strikers

Free Ghoncheh Ghavami – SOAS action

Protesters at outside SOAS called for the release of former SOAS Law student Ghoncheh Ghavami, held in prison for 104 days and on hunger strike for 10 days after being detained in Iran with other women after she went to watch a volleyball match. Among those who spoke at the protest was Ghavami’s brother.

According to Wikipedia, “Ghavami was released on bail on 23 November 2014. She was sentenced to a one-year jail term and a two-year travel ban.”

Free Ghoncheh Ghavami – SOAS action

City Panoramas

I had a little time to spare between events and took a short walk in the City, including along one of the remaining areas of ‘highwalk’ at the southwest of the Barbican site, part of the post-war plan to segregate pedestrians from traffic.

The Museum of London had decorated the wall at left with characters related to an exhibition about Sherlock Holmes.

This large building site was on what used to be St Alphage Highwalk. The ambitious post-war plans to separate pedestrians from traffic in the City were never really practical on a large scale and large sections such as this have been demolished, although there are still some highwalks including throughout the large Barbican estate.

City Panoramas

Palestine protest at Hewlett Packard

The Palestinian Prisoners Campaign continued their campaign against Hewlett-Packard, which boasts of ‘a massive presence’ in Israel and are the IT backbone for the Israeli war machine with a picket outside their London offices in Wood St in the City.

Palestine protest at Hewlett Packard

Solidarity with the Umbrella Revolution

The National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts organised a protest at the Chinese Embassy in solidarity with the ‘umbrella revolution’ of the students and workers of Hong Kong in their fight for democracy. Many of the protesters carried umbrellas and others had small yellow paper umbrellas as well as their posters and placards.

Solidarity with the Umbrella Revolution


FlickrFacebookMy London DiaryHull PhotosLea ValleyParis

London’s Industrial HeritageLondon Photos

All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.



Swanscombe

Sunday, June 6th, 2021

Swanscombe, Kent. Sat 6 Jun 2015

I first visited Swanscombe back in 1985, when I was photographing along the south bank of the River Thames and Lower Thameside. Until the 1840s this area of North Kent had been relatively remove and rural, with riverside marshes largely untouched and valuable agricultural land on the higher areas growing food for the capital.

Portland Cement was patented by by Joseph Aspdin in 1824 and the later developed by his sone William, but the modern version of it was developed at Swanscombe by Isaac Charles Johnson, then manager of John Bazeley White’s cement plant. Johnson soon after left J B Whites to set up his own cement plants, including those nearby at Geenhithe and Cliffe, and Frindsbury on the Medway. In 1911 C Johnson & Co became a part of the Blue Circle Group.

The building of London’s sewers led both to a large demand for cement and also led the Metropolitan Board of Works to provide a specification for their needs which became the standard for Portland Cement. Portland Cement is the cement used in almost all concrete, mortar, stucco and grouting.

From around 1900 virtually all cement has been made in large rotary kilns, with flames heating limestone or chalk with clay-containing minerals at around 1500-1600 degrees Celsius. Water and carbon dioxide are driven off as the minerals combine to give silicates (mainly (tricalcium silicate, dicalcium silicate, tricalcium aluminate and tetracalcium aluminoferrite). Around 10% of world CO2 production which fuels climate change is due to cement manufacture, and smaller amounts of other polluting materials are also released in the process – hence the high chimneys of cement works. The small lumps of ‘cement clinker’ that emerge at the lower end of the kiln are then ground to a fine powder, often with added gypsum (calcium sulphate) or limestone to give cement.

Cement can cause burns and it readily absorbs water, hardening to form solid hydrated material and firmly embedding the sand or aggregate it is mixed with for most uses. Over many thousands of years the River Thames in this area had cut its course up to the chalk of the North Downs, and since the 1840s much of that chalk has been quarried, leaving deep pits with often fairly narrow strips left for roads through the area and housing. One of those deep pits now holds the Bluewater shopping centre at Greenhithe and others are filled with various industrial properties or housing. The industry over around 150 years completely transformed the landscape. But by the time I first came to photograph it, this post-industrial landscape was rapidly being reclaimed by nature.

Down the centre of the Swanscombe peninsula is the footpath, Pilgrims Road, leading down towards where a ferry once brought pilgrims on their way to Canterbury from a ferry across the River Thames from close by St Clement’s Church, still there beside the detergent works at South Stifford. Later clay was brought across the river from Essex to wharves for making cement, as well as coal, probably coming by coaster from the north-east to fuel the kilns. Ropeways or conveyor belts will have linked the wharves to the cement plant.

In 2012 I heard of the plans to transform part at least of the area yet again, into the Paramount London theme park, a leisure attraction along the lines of Thorpe Park, which would destroy the area as I knew it. Although I decided to come and photograph the area again before that happened it took me three years to return and do it, cycling around the area on a Brompton, (though occasionally I had to leave it a explore on foot.) Five years on, the plans are still plans and I hope to go back again next month.

With a few exceptions, the pictures here are wide-angle panoramics, with a horizontal angle of view of around 145 degrees and a vertical angle of view of roughly 90 degrees which results in a ‘normal’ aspect ratio of 1.5 : 1 – I usually took these intending to crop to a 1.9:1 ration but have left them uncropped. A few are taken with more normal wide-angle lenses.

On My London Diary you can see more of these pictures, and also read more about the area and my day there in 2015. The images display a little larger on that site.


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.


Tottenham, Hackney and The Times

Sunday, April 11th, 2021

I took the Underground to Seven Sisters, pausing while I waited for a bus to take a few pictures of the shops that would be lost with the redevelopment of the ‘Latin Village’ along with that thriving indoor market. For once I had a clear view from the bus and I took a few pictures as it made its way north to Tottenham job centre. I arrived earlier than expected and walked on the short distance to Tottenham’s new ground, officially opened the previous week, before walking back to photograph the protest I had come for.

The stadium did seem quite impressive from the outside, though like many others I was less impressed to hear that the football club are keen to pay TfL to change the name of the railway station in White Hart Lane to ‘Tottenham Hotspur’. I’m pleased to see that it still has its old name now, 149 years after it opened with it. Spurs wanted the change because it would increase the chances of finding a sponsor for the new stadium, but there was considerable opposition. And while there is precedent – Gillespie Road on the Picadilly line was renamed Arsenal in 1932 – since that team has now moved from their old ground it perhaps wasn’t a good idea.

The protest outside the Tottenham Jobcentre Plus was organised by the North London Revolutionary Communist Group and others and was one of many that have been taking place regularly outside job centres calling for Universal Credit to be scrapped. UC was badly thought out but even more poorly implemented, both thanks to Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions from 2010 to 2016. Designed both to rationalise and cut benefits, it incorporates a delay typically of five weeks between the old benefits ceasing and UC being paid, leaving many with nothing to live on. Some minor improvements have been made, including the availability of loans, but those on benefits are not really in any position to repay loans. Together with a harsh benefits sanction regime which had meant some claimants have lost benefits for long periods for relatively trivial reasons – such as being a few minutes late for an appointment – or having an accident on the way to one, this has resulted in a huge growth in reliance on food banks and even some deaths due to starvation and being unable to heat homes. Many have been forced into huge rent arrears – and in 2018 one in 38 of new claimants became homeless because of evictions.

The campaigners were still handing out leaflets and talking to clients going into the job centre and leaving when I caught the bus to make my way down to Bethnal Green. The weather, with sun, blue sky and some clouds was perfect for continuing my project making panoramic images of the Regent’s Canal in preparation for a show to celebrate the 200th anniversary of its opening in 1820.

As well as pictures showing the canal I took a few more on my way to Bethnal Green, as well as walking around the area, then along the canal west to Broadway Market.

It was then time to get on a bus again, to make my way to the offices of News Corp at London Bridge, where Transmission, a group supporting the rights of trans people, were protesting outside the offices of The Times newspaper against their publication of transphobic articles.

They say the paper has published an unfair article by Lucy Bannerman against the Tavistock Centre and medical services for trans children and has earlier targeted the trans charity Mermaids and ostracised trans athletes for competing in sports.

More on My London Diary:
Times end transphobic articles
Regent’s Canal
Scrap Universal Credit Jobcentre protest
Tottenham and Spurs

Two years ago – 26 Feb 2019

Friday, February 26th, 2021

Class War protest Rees-Mogg freak show

Two years ago today Class War protested outside the London Palladium against Jacob Rees-Mogg, who they accused of spouting “homophobic, transphobic, racist, pro-hunting, misogynist, classist, privileged” nonsense. Rees-Mogg had booked London’s best known venue to preach more of this to his fans, who had paid £38 for a ticket to this freak show.

I met up with Class War at a pub a short walk from the Palladium and found a small group there with Jane Nicholl dressed as a nun, Mother Hysteria, and Adam Clifford as Jacob Rees Mogg and there was time for them to take a selfie and everyone to finish their drinks before the small group moved off to the entrance to the Palladium where a few more of there supporters were waiting and long queues were waiting to enter for the performance inside.

As well as the fans there were of course a large group of security men and police in attendance (all probably thanking Class War for the overtime.) And when Class War held up posters and banners the waiting crowd had their hopes for what they had paid to come and see confirmed. One or two did come across to insult the protesters, and a few others passing by came to share their similar views of Mogg with Class War.

Police did their best to render the protest less effective and moved the group to the opposite side of the pedestrianised street and issued various warnings to harass them. Eventually they stopped and searched Jane Nicholl, threatening her with arrest as they found stink bombs in her handbag which they claimed were offensive weapons. I stood for almost 20 minutes watching the officer writing out “her notice of stop and search, perhaps because he is at a loss trying to find some way that doesn’t make the police action sound stupid” before deciding I had to go home and file my pictures.


Rally for an end to Outsourcing

This protest had come at the end of a long and varied day for me, which had begun with a coordinated action by the UVW, IWGB, and the BEIS PCS branch demanding an end to outsourcing and the insecurity, discrimination and low pay it causes. A legal challenge was demanding better rights for the 3.3 million outsourced workers in the UK, and protesters had met at the University of London at 8am to march to a protest outside the High Court before moving on to a rally in Parliament Square where I joined them a couple of hours later.


Outsourced Workers protest at BEIS

From Parliament Square it was a short walk to the Dept for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy in Victoria St where outsourced workers including catering and security staff in the PCS were striking in support of their demand for the London Living Wage as well as end to outsourcing and the insecurity, discrimination and low pay it causes.


Outsourced Workers at Justice ministry

After a rally and speeches at the BEIS, the protest by outsourced workers moved on to the Ministry of Justice (though they call in the Ministry of Injustice) where low paid workers belonging the the United Voices of the World union who had been on strike for 24 hours were going back to work. They also want the London Living Wage and fair conditions of service rather than the poverty and insecurity of outsourcing.


North Woolwich

When the protest at the Justice Ministry came to an end I went to have a quick lunch and, as I had several hours to spare before the Class War action, went to take some photographs at North Woolwich. Unfortunately I arrived at Bank station for the DLR only to find there were no trains running – and no information as to when they might resume service.

It took me rather longer than anticipated to get there, taking the Northern Line to London Bridge and a train to Woolwich Arsenal. Fortunately by then services were running from there to North Woolwich, saving me a walk across the river but I still had rather less time than I needed and had to rush away before finishing my planned route, mainly beside the River Thames. It was a pleasant day for a walk, but a clear blue sky is not good for panoramic views.

As usual, more about all these on My London Diary:
Class War protest Rees-Mogg freak show
North Woolwich
Outsourced Workers at Justice ministry
Outsourced Workers protest at BEIS
Rally for an end to Outsourcing


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.


The Spice of Life

Wednesday, February 24th, 2021

Perhaps the hardest thing I’ve found about the last eleven months has been the lack of variety. I’ve been fortunate to probably avoid the virus – I was quite ill early in March 2020 but my symptoms didn’t match those then thought to typify Covid-19, though they did match some of those being reported by Covid sufferers – and none of my family or close friends have died from it.

But days mainly spent at home in front of a computer screen have followed days mainly spent at home in front of a computer screen relentlessly, though I have tried to get out for walks or bike rides most days. As someone of an age and medical condition that makes me vulnerable I decided not to travel up to London on public transport, although as a journalist I count as a key worker and could have done so. Apart from usually solitary exercise (occasionally a walk with my wife on Sundays) I’ve made a couple of trips out for pub meals with family or friends when these were allowed, and a few short journeys for medical and dental appointments – including most recently my first Covid vaccination.

There’s Zoom of course, and I hate it, though taking part in a few regular events. It’s a little better on my desktop computer which hasn’t got a camera, but on the notebook or tablet I find it disconcerting to see myself in close-up (and sometimes move out of frame and sit in a more comfortable chair watching the screen from a distance.) It’s perhaps more seeing the others, mainly in head and shoulders close-up that makes me uncomfortable with Zoom; in real life we would be sitting around at a sensible distance, seeing each other at full length and as a part of the overall scene, looking away when we want to at other things. Not those relentless talking or muted full-face heads.

Tuesday 24th February 2009 wasn’t a typical day, and that’s really the point. Few days then were typical. I caught the train to Waterloo and took a bus across to Aldwych, a short journey but faster than walking. A short walk then took me to the Royal Courts of Justice where protesters were supporting the application for judicial review by Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq challenging the government’s failure to fulfil its obligations with respect to Israel’s activities in Palestine.

It was Shrove Tuesday, and from the Royal Courts another bus took me on one of my favourite central London bus journey, up Fleet St and Ludgate Hill to Bank, from where I hurried to Guildhall Yard to the Worshipful Company of Poulters Pancake Races. It perhaps wasn’t one of my better attempts to photograph the event, perhaps because I tried too hard to show the actual running and tossing of pancakes.

I couldn’t stay for the finals of the pancake race but hurried down to Mansion House for the District and Circle Line to Westminster to meet postal workers as they came out of a rally at Methodist Central Hall to protest at government plans to part-privatise the postal service and then proceeded to a short protest in front of Parliament.

There was nothing in my diary for the next few hours, so I took the opportunity to jump onto the Jubilee Line to Stratford and then walk towards the Olympic site for one of my occasional reports on what was happening in the area – which I had been photographing since the 1980s.

I made my way through the Bow Back Rivers, photographing the new lock gates at City Mill Lock. The Olympic site was sealed off to the public by the ‘blue fence’ but I was able to walk along the elevated path on the Northern Outfall Sewer to take a panoramic view of the stadium under construction. It was rather a dull day and not ideal for such wide views with such a large expanse of grey sky.

I took the Central Line back to Oxford Circus for the March of the Corporate Undead, advertised as a “Zombie Shopping Spree” along Oxford Street from Oxford Circus to Marble Arch, complete with coffins, a dead ‘banker’, posters, various members of the undead and a rather good band.

I left the zombies at Marble Arch where they were hanging an effigy of a banker and hurried to my final appointment, a London Bloggers Meetup. The evening’s meeting was being sponsored by Bacardi who were supplying free drinks, including blue and green Breezers which I thought would have been rather suitable for the zombies, but fortunately there was also free beer. I probably took a few pictures, but haven’t published them.

All just a little more interesting than staring at a screen, though there was rather a lot of that to do when I finally got home.

March of the Corporate Undead
Olympic Site Report
London Olympic site pans
Keep the Post Public
Poulters Pancake Race
Al-Haq Sue UK Government


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.


Bow Creek Panoramas – 1992

Thursday, February 18th, 2021

DLR Viaduct, Bow Creek, Leamouth Rd, Leamouth, Tower Hamlets, Newham, 1982 92-1j61pr_2400

At the end of 1991 I finally bought my first panoramic camera, a Japanese Widelux F8 which I couldn’t really afford. It was a camera that took around 21 pictures on a 36 exposure film, with the film curved around a part of a cylindrical path with the lens pivoting around the centre of the cylinder.

Bow Creek, Bridges, Leamouth Rd, Tower Hamlets, 1992 92-3a42a_2400

The lens is a 26mm f2.8, though it needs to be stopped down to around f8 for most pictures as the camera is fixed focus at around 6 ft and only gets sharp at infinity when stopped down. Winding on the film winds up a clockwork motor and returns the lens to its starting position. On pressing the shutter the lens swings around through about 140 degrees, exposing the film through a slit at its back which swings across close to the film. It has 3 shutter speeds, 1/15, 1/125, and 1/250th, but even at the fastest speed it still takes rather longer to actually complete the exposure.

92-3b38_2400

The design keeps lens to film distant constant – at around 26mm – right to the edge of the film across a negative 24mm x 56mm. If this was flat, the distance to the corner would be more like 40mm and so objects at the edges get stretched to around 1.5 times actual size. This camera eliminates this distortion, but at the expense of introducing its own which you can see in these pictures. This becomes particularly noticeable in the curvature of most straight non-vertical lines.

Pura Foods, Bow Creek, M & J Reuben, London Sawmills, Wharfside Rd, Newham, 1992 92-3b52_2400

In particular, horizons become curved unless the camera is kept absolutely level. The pictures of Bow Creek were made with the camera on a sturdy tripod and with the help of a spirit level. There is one on the top plate of the camera, but I found a larger separate one more useful.

Bow Creek, Orchard Place, River Thames, Lower Lea Crossing, Tower Hamlets, Newham, 1992 92-1n12_leamouth_2400

Although the angle of view is often stated as 140 degrees this is perhaps misleading and I think probably is the angle across the diagonal. Rather more useful is the horizontal angle of view, which I think is just slightly over 120 degrees. Theoretically it would be possible to create a full 360 degree view in three exposures, but practically it needed four, though I don’t think I ever succeeded on the few occasions I tried to make one.

Later I made many more panoramas here and around London, particularly with a similar Russian camera, the Horizon or Horizont which was rather more convenient to use, as well as a few with a much larger medium format version. I also used a Hassleblad X-Pan, a nice camera which was panoramic only in format, with a similar negative size, 58x24mm, but using rectilinear lenses which can’t acheive a really wide angle of view.


Meridian 3

Friday, August 28th, 2020

Following the Greenwich Meridian is rather easier since the Ordnance Survey helpfully added it to their 1:25000 maps in 1999, but these pictures were made five years earlier in my project in preparation for the Millennium. I’d had to draw my own pencil line in their maps, which fortunately did show in their outer margins the Longitude at one minute intervals, including 0°00′, so it wasn’t hard to add the line.

I’ve never quite understood why the National Grid doesn’t quite align with this, the Prime Meridian, but presumably there were good reasons for choosing another starting point and working very slightly at an angle. The street maps which I needed to work out my actual route as they had the street names follow the National Grid, though they rather hide this behind their own system of letters and numbers based on half-kilometre squares.

For the northern part of my walk, the Meridian ran roughly down the gap between two pages of my Master Atlas of Greater London, a book too large and heavy to carry on my walks, and I marked out my route with highlighter pens on illegal photocopies of its pages.

There are several crossings of Southend Road, the North Circular Road at this point close to the Meridian which I think was actually a few yards to my east as I took a picture looking roughly west. But the road layout had changed a little from that since my OS map had been revised. It was a view which made a better picture – and close enough to the line for me, as was the level crossing at Highams Park – where again the actual line is a few yards behind me – to the west.

The view of Mapleton Rd and Stapleton Close (wrongly titled Mapleton Drive in my notes) is perhaps a hundred yards west of the Meridian, but close enough for me. The war memorial at the junction of The Ridgeway and Kings Head Hill is spot on target, while Woodberry Way is perhaps around a hundred yards to the west.

Finally, Pole Hill has two markers; the obelisk, set up by the Astronomer Royal to align his telescope in Greenwich due north is on the old Meridian, but the trig point to its left is on the version adopted internationally (except by France) in 1884. Nowadays we use GPS based on the International Terrestrial Reference Frame which has its zero meridian 102.478 metres further east.


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

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.

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


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.