Regent's Canal Islington
Maiden Lane Bridge to Sturts Lock
The eight and a half mile long Regent's Canal was planned by Thomas Homer, a local businessman who saw the potential of a new waterway to link the Grand Junction Canal at Paddington with docks to the east. The canal was designed and built in collaboration with the famous architect, John Nash.
Nash planned the canal to encircle another of his projects - the newly completed Regent's Park - and as a friend of the Prince Regent obtained the Prince's permission to name the canal after him. In 1812 the Regent's Canal Act was passed, and a company formed to build the canal with James Morgan as the engineer appointed by Nash.
From the start, the canal was a great success. After the ceremonial opening on 1 August 1820, companies rushed to occupy the canalside wharves. By 1840, Thomas Pickford Limited of City Road Basin had the largest boat fleet on the canal, with some 120 craft and as many horses to pull them.
However, competition from the railway was looming, and in 1837 London's first mainline railway station was opened at Euston. For a while, the two transport systems worked side by side, and many of the building materials for the new north London rail termini were carried by canal.
Gradually the faster
railways attracted commercial traffic away from the canal, although the canal company cut toll charges and strengthened the boat fleets in a valiant attempt to compete. Starved of funds, the Regent's Canal finally foundered as a commercial trade route when munitions traffic ceased after World War II. The government nationalised rail, road and canal transport in 1948, and set up the British Transport Commission to administer them all.
In 1963, British Waterways took over the running of the inland waterways system, and canals have since become widely used for a variety of recreational and leisure activities. In London, the Boroughs work together with British Waterways to provide a historic and interesting canalside walkway through London for all to enjoy.
The Regent's Canal is home to a great variety of plants and animals, as the peaceful environment offers a natural highway for seed dispersal or migration in the built-up city.
Grass, scrub and woodlands habitats along the canal bank and towing path shelter small animals, insects and birds; canal walls and shallow edges are ideal for marsh and water plants; and a variety of invertebrates and fish live in the deeper water.
Places of interest
A traditional London market with its mixture of foodstuffs and other wares. Closed Monday all day, and Thursday
and Sunday in the afternoons.
One of London's most interesting and best known antique markets. Open Wednesdays and Saturdays until 3pm only.
Here you leave the towing path and follow cast iron plaques set in the pavement to rejoin the path beyond the tunnel.
Walking route over tunnel
Total length just under 1 ½ miles, of which about ½ mile is tunnel with no pedestrian access.
Swimming is not allowed as the water is deep and dangerous
Cyclists must have a permit from British Waterways (see below)
No motorbikes allowed
Anglers can buy day tickets from patrolling bailiffs except: where therer are permanent boat moorings; at Camden Lock and surrounding area; and between Camden and Hawley locks.
Towing path gates are normally open every day during daylight hours.