The Regent's Canal

The Regent Canal soon moves out of the Paddington/Marylebone area, but not before giving us three notable local features: Little Venice, the Maida Hill Tunnel and the placid, tree-lined cutting by the London Zoo.

The map below shows the route of the Regent's Canal. The Grand Junction Canal Company had brought the canal to Paddington along the 100 foot (30 metre) contour. This had been relatively cheap as it involved no locks or tunnels. They hoped to continue at the same level, parallel to the New Road, but by 1911 Nash was starting to build his magnificent stucco palaces in Regent's Park. Nash was creating an enclosed estate, cut off from the working world, with entrances through impressive roads, or monumental gateways. He did not want a canal full of grimy coal barges to separate the new estate from Regent's Street and his wealthy West End clients On the other hand, Nash liked the idea of the canal bordering his Park to the north in a well-wooded valley, insulating it silently and romantically by a hidden ha ha.

Nash, with the power of the Crown Estates behind him, forced the canal to sweep north, to tunnel expensively under Maida Hill and excavate the deep cutting by the Zoo. It was largely these unexpected costs and the need to raise more money, which led among many other problems, to the delays in completing the Regent’s Canal.

pic39
The Plan of the Regent's Canal from Paddington to the Thames at Limehouse.

 


Footnote

1. The Growth of Camden Town, by Jack Whitehead, 1999, and many other sources.

 

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Updated August 8, 2011