There is a pool at the junction of the Regents Canal and Grand Union Canal that is now known as Little Venice. Every year there is a Festival and Cavalcade of canal boats. Some have traveled hundreds of miles using the vast network of canals that were once the lifeblood of Britain’s trade and industry.
Canal boats became ornamental even as working boats.
A Small Sample of the Cavalcade
Some of the Characters
The ugly duckling.
“One likes to be a good sport, but if one more reveler refers to me as loofah neck I shall scream”.
The London Waterbus operates between Camden Lock Market ⇐ and Little Venice on the Regents Canal. The waterbus has a seasonal timetable ⇒ and the journey time is approximately 50 minutes. The Little Venice destination is a charming pool with a barge cafe and an enchanting barge puppet theatre ⇓.
The canal is part of a huge network that was once the lifeblood of trading Britain, moving goods and raw materials between ports and the hinterland by horse-drawn barge. Many of the old canals have been restored and now provide for house boats and holiday barges. History ⇒ and scenic Barge Holidays ⇒ (one source) and the Norfolk Broads Holiday River Boats ⇒ (no canal locks).
Many canals have tunnels and this section of the Regents Canal has two. The longest UK tunnel of 3.24 miles is in the north of England at Standedge ⇒ (pronounced Stannige). The long tunnels did not have towpaths and men had to lie on the cargo and push the barge along by walking along the roof or walls of the tunnel (called legging). Professional leggers were available at one shilling per hour and the Standedge tunnel would take a back-breaking three hours to traverse with a fully laden barge.
Here are just a few snaps from the London Waterbus journey.
Starting from a small cut just past the lock at Camden Market the waterbus passes St Martin’s Church and then some pleasant foilage.
Then there are several embassies.
The route passes through Regents Park (London) Zoo, although all that can be seen from the canal is the giant aviary.
One of the few remaining Catholic Apostolic Churches (Maida Vale). A curious religious movement which was founded by three self appointed apostles in England in 1831 and spread to Germany and USA. The church ceased ordination in 1901 and so became virtually extinct by the 1970’s.
Arriving at Little Venice there is the barge cafe.
And, a fine view back across the pool.
On the other side of the Little Venice pool is the Puppet Theatre Barge ⇒, which magically appears from Richmond between October and the following July. Whilst it may not look like much from the outside, the inside is warm and cosy and the performances are skillful and enchanting and usually suitable for a broad age range.