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Sunday, June 16, 2013

Out to Kensal Green

It seems like we have been in London forever having passed through to the Lee and Stort and now coming back on our way to the west of London and our entrance onto the River Thames.

Above Jaq is in charge of the boat whilst I take my turn at locking duty. It was early in the day so this big tourist attraction was quiet with few onlookers.
The whole area was centred on the Interchange building pictured left. This was where boat, road and rail could swop cargoes. As you see the canal went beneath the building and I have read there was room for 18 narrow boats.
With the large rail depot all around horses were a big source of movement not just of boats but also the railway wagons. At times 400+ horses would be working and stabled here. Walking around the market it is pleasing to see this fact has been a big focus point and indeed some of the market stalls are situated in the horse pens.
The problem of getting horses from the stables across the site was made easier by tunnels below ground and some are still here today. Some links might be the easiest way to appreciate the site.
Here  Here    Here  and Here.

Camden visitor moorings have lockable gates at each end. A waterways key is used for access but I`m not sure that they are actually locked each night. Having never boated into London past Paddington I had always had concerns of safe mooring in London. The above might give cause for concern, it did me when reading of it some years back, but I can say that we intend to return into London and moor along the towpaths.
The old toll house on the Paddington Arm and we are topping up the water tank and disposing of the rubbish/trash before we move onto Kensal Green for a few days and have guests from America. 
 Just a few hundred yards further on and a chance to see the school that cast me out into the world at 15 years old.
There it is was behind the wall containing the art created from rubbish gathered out of the canal. As you can see, below,  from a picture taken on our last visit it has with out doubt gone.


 Now this is Kensal Green the site of the old Gasworks. As a kid I lived just 800 yards as the Crow flies from this site. Nothing with the  exception of the gas holders is left now but I do remember swimming here as a child. There were two inlets to the works from the canal each side of Sainsbury`s and the process of  making gas from coal resulted in the warm water flowing into the canal. The by product was Coke and this was used by most folk to heat their homes on open fires. Every Saturday we kids would get orders for sacks of coke and we would use prams/baby carriages to deliver the orders for pocket money. Just one of many money schemes we had as kids. Now my mind is whirling of the way we spent our earnings. Anyone remember the `Red Rover` bus ticket.
The old water tower survives from the gas works and has an interesting history and it seems future, give it a read.  The forecasted value of £4 million does not surprise me in this mad world of property development.

 We first saw Savoy Hill a few weeks back on the Lee navigation.

In the shadow of the now listed Gas holders this will be home for a few days. Talking of gas, I remember as a kid the gas lighting in the streets where I lived. A man with a pole came around each evening and pulled the gas valve open to increase the flame and do the reverse in the morning. Anyone else remember the days when there were so many jobs to keep people employed. Any road works had a night watchman with his brazier burning all night to keep him warm and cook a meal.


Anonymous said...

We all believed when we were younger (much younger?) that was life as it was then. As our perceptions changed so did we. Following Valerie's alternate route through the bowels of London canals has been a fascinating journey for we the reader. And moreso for those of us living many leagues away from the actually happenings.

I too recall through photographsand yes memories of my childhood and how
"simple" life was then. Strange as we "retire' and follow other pursuits, the past returns, in the strangest ways. Les has this time been most eloquent in his description of his childhood, a different take on the passage of your home.

Anonymous said...

I came across this looking for information about the future of the Kensal Gasworks site. I also grew up very close by and used to play on the Waste Ground between Sainsbury's and the Gas Works and in the long yard behind when I was a kid. Very interesting to read about the area from before I knew it!

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs