Jade and I recently took a wander along the Regent’s Canal, a 13.8km long stretch of water running from the Grand Union Canal in Paddington to the River Thames at Limehouse. What we found were scenes unlike any you’d find in a London guidebook. In fact, at times it was hard to believe we were still in one of the world’s largest metropolitan areas.
Narrowboats on Regent’s Canal, London
A massive gentrification project
Formerly poor, industrial neighbourhoods, the area surrounding the canal have seen massive gentrification and re-purposing in recent years. Old warehouses and lock keeper’s cottages have been snapped up and sold on for massive profits. This sudden interest in the area has resulted in some stand-off. Existing residents living in ageing block of flats have seen landlords tripling rent in some cases. The residents have argued that this has been a blatant attempt to drive them out of their homes so that more modern housing can be built. While some groups have been successful in beating the landlords, others haven’t been so lucky. In some places, this is very much apparent with smart, modern apartment blocks standing directly alongside blocks of flats built in the 1960s that almost certainly have a questionable future.
A hipster’s paradise
The area is now a hipster’s paradise. Super-cool cafes and eateries line the canal flanked by lines of lounging young people swigging on ice cold beers, the gentlemen wearing finely manicured beards, the ladies in summery dresses or loose-fitting tops. Beautifully cared-for narrow-boats chugged along the water or floated motionless whilst moored to the bank whilst their passengers chatted in the sunshine. We found one boat playing the part of a live music stage, to the enjoyment of a small crowd on the bank.
We enjoyed our walk, appreciating the efforts of local councils and developers in making the area safe, accessible and interesting, though we also kept in mind the residents who have been driven from their homes in the name of modernisation.
Does a walk along the Canal seem appealing? Let us know in the comments section below.