A Brief History Of Regent's Canal

May 01, 2018

A Brief History Of Regent's Canal

Regent’s Canal is one of the most peaceful places in North London and is loved by so many: boaters, walkers, runners, cyclist, Londoners and tourists.

Over 13.8 km long, Regent’s Canal links up some of the best places in London. Running through Paddington, colourful little venice in Maida Vale, Regent’s Park and London Zoo right to the heart of our beloved Camden Town and King's Cross.

However, Regent’s Canal’s history has been long forgotten by most and yet London would not be what it is today without it.

Allow us to introduce you to a brief history of Regent’s Canal…

I. Regent’s Canal’s History.


The idea of Regent’s Canal was first introduced by Thomas Honer in 1802 as a link from Paddington to the River Thames, but was only built then years later in 1812, when Regent’s Canal became part of a bigger plan : the redevelopment of the whole of Central-North London. 

In 1816, the first section from Paddington to Camden Town opened with several basins and the rest opened four years later in 1820.

With the industrial revolution and the construction of the railways in North London, Regent’s Canal became indispensable and played a fundamental role in the influence London had over the rest of Britain.

It was first used to transport imports to the Midlands, and then to transfer cargo from seafaring vessels to canal barges in Regent’s Canal Dock, the main centre of trade and the area with the heaviest traffic. It was also along the canal that barge horses pulled train rails to King’s Cross during the construction of its railways.

However, by 1840 the railways took most of the traffic from the canal and even a few attempts to turn the Canal into railways had been made. Thankfully none of these attempts succeeded. 

Finally, the last commercial traffic was made in 1956. 

Today, the canal is a place of tranquility in the middle of the City where colourful boats and people meet.

On this long (and hopefully sunny) May Day Bank Holiday weekend, what better way to celebrate Regent’s Canal's history then to head over to Little Venice for London’s biggest waterside festival, IWA Canalway Cavalcade?

II. IWA Canalway Cavalcade

Canal way-Cavalcade-History-Of-Regent's-Canal

It is one of our all time favourite spring events because not only is IWA Canalway Cavalcade a beautiful festival but it's also organised for a good cause. Indeed, the festival is coordinated by the charity The Inland Waterways Association (IWA) who protects the UK’s canals and rivers.

Be prepared to see over 120 beautifully decorated boats, eat delicious street food and peruse an array of creative craft stalls. Plus a multitude of activities and entertainment is planned throughout the weekend: from boat handling competitions (yep, that's a thing), to a parade of historic and working boats, children’s activities during the day and illuminated boats at night, there will be something for everyone.


The festival will be extending along Warwick Crescent and the towpaths towards Paddington Station, onto the Paddington Stone Wharf, in Rembrandt Gardens and the Amphitheatre in Sheldon Square. The opening times are from 10am to 6pm from Saturday to Monday and is also open from 9pm to 10:30pm on Sunday for the illuminated boats.

Canalway-Cavalcade-LondonAll images from The Inland Waterways Association.

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