Duncan Terrace and Regent’s Canal

Today we went to the local branch of Giraffe for breakfast as we had not been there for a while.

Breakfast at the Giraffe
Breakfast at the Giraffe

It was quite chilly this morning but we went for a walk, starting with a little street called Colebrooke Row. Outside a beautician’s, there was a blackboard. It had been “edited” by some wag.

A novel nail treatment
A novel nail treatment

We saw two heads in a window. They said they were Blues musicians. They were made of wood.

Wooden heads
Wooden heads

Everywhere in London you are likely to come across vestiges of the past. Sometimes they are self-explanatory and other times, as below, they offer only a hint of their story.

Once a hostel for women only
Once a hostel for women only

At least, I assume that’s what it was, a women-only hostel. The faded sign reads:


9D & 1/- PER NIGHT
4/6 & 6/- PER WEEK

It must be quite old as it dates from a time when you could get a room for the night for 9 old pence  (3.75p) or one shilling (5p) and for a whole week for 4 shillings and sixpence (22.5p) or 6 shillings (30p). Not only that but the economy was stable enough for the manager to have the prices painted on the wall.

Plaque commemorating the Social Democratic Federation
Plaque commemorating the Social Democratic Federation

A little further along Colebrooke Row, at number 55, is the above plaque. Henry Hyndman (1842-1921) is credited with founding Britain’s first socialist party, the Social Democratic Federation. Other members were William Morris and Eleanor Marx, daughter of Karl Marx. How many people remember Henry Hyndman and his organization now?

One end of Duncan Terrace
One end of Duncan Terrace

We passed along the rather pretty Duncan Terrace, one end of which is shown above. Named after Admiral Duncan, commander of the fleet against the Dutch at the battle of Camperdown (1797), the Terrace was once distinguished by its position beside the New River, created to bring much need water to North London. These days, the river is hidden in pipes running under  the park that runs along the street.

Interesting creatures near Regent's Canal
Interesting creatures near Regent’s Canal

We continued on down to the Regent’s Canal. There we spotted some black and red creatures (see above). I didn’t know that they were until I saw some ladybirds nearby and guessed that they were ladybird larvae. Looking them up when we returned home, I found that my guess was right.

Along the canal
Along the canal

It is pleasant to walk along the canal. Today it was quiet and calm and the barges were colourful.

Light at the end of the tunnel
Light at the end of the tunnel

At this point, the canal passes through the Islington Tunnel. I was fortunate to find a vantage point from which it is possible to see right through the tunnel. There is no tow path in the tunnel and in the old days, bargees would have had to send their horses through the streets and push the barges through the tunnel by hand.

In the lock Leaving the lock
A barge passes through City Road Lock

We walked on down to City Road Lock and were in time to see a cruise barge going through. A lock is one of those simple but ingenious devices that are impossible to improve. They allow boats to negotiate different levels on the waterways. While they are best operated (as here) by two people, they can be worked by just one person. And yes, the barge did wait for the two crew members to climb aboard again.

In the second picture above, the right branch of the canal terminates in the City Basin. This would once have been a dock but is today an amenity. There is a canoe club and housing estates on either side.

Unfortunately, you cannot walk all the way along the side the water because the path is closed off. You have to make a detour through the streets. We did so and eventually reached City Road.

City Road Basin
City Road Basin

The sky was now looking rather stormy and it was beginning to rain. The wind had stiffened and I was wishing I had remembered to bring gloves. So after a last look around the Basin we caught the bus for home where we made tea and warmed ourselves up.


Copyright © 2010 SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.


About SilverTiger

I live in Islington with my partner, "Tigger". I blog about our life and our travels, using my own photos for illustration.
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16 Responses to Duncan Terrace and Regent’s Canal

  1. AEJ says:

    I love Louise’s solar panel.

    That must have been some good quality paint to still be able to be read on that wall.

    • SilverTiger says:

      Actually, Louise has a very lived-in look about her. Putting that another way, she is very untidy! She is someone’s home.

      Signs like this one for the (presumed) women’s hostel are called “ghost signs” because they represent businesses that were once on the premises but have long since disappeared. When you come to look for them, there are quite a lot, of all ages.

      I agree that they have lasted well, surprisingly so in some cases. Sometimes it is because another sign has been attached or painted over them and has itself disappeared or decayed, revealing the older one which it has protected in the meantime.

  2. BFG says:

    A pleasure to read, as always. I have an old friend who was born on a barge (or houseboat, for the upwardly-mobile :)) – I’m pretty sure his story would make an interesting read. I’ll have to try and persuade him.

    All other things considered, you have an enviable life IMHO. 🙂

    • SilverTiger says:

      Houseboats occur in many locations in London, including parts of the Thames. In some cases, the inhabitants of new blocks of dwellings overlooking the water are pressing for removal of what they consider an untidy sight spoiling the view. Near us too is a Canal Museum which casts an interesting light on the now disappearing life of bargees.

      Yes, we do have some good times and adventures!

      • BFG says:

        It was claimed that Richard Branson maintained a houseboat somewhere in Kidlington (north of Oxford) for some time after he’d got going with Virgin Records.

        All I can find so far was that at one time in the 1970s he apparently did live in and work from one, but it was probably in London somewhere.

        • SilverTiger says:

          That was probably during his trendy phase.

          I think that the fad for living on boats has passed now, leaving a core of of serious boat dwellers, while the trendies have moved on to other things.

          Though canal boats would seem to be the last word in “mobile homes”, few permanently inhabited ones seem actually to go anywhere. Some even have gardens beside them cultivated by their occupants.

  3. Catz says:

    We have a lot of buildings with “ghost signs” here as well. Also many people live on boats here. Frankly with the price of property here in Vancouver more people will probably find a barge to sleep on!

    • SilverTiger says:

      If prices of houses in Vancouver are as horrendous as those in London and, indeed, in the whole of Britain, then I am not surprised to find people stepping sideways into other forms of accommodation.

      Modern canal boats (to give them their preferred name these days) seem to have every mod con. I remember walking along a tow path and passing a boat where someone was taking a shower. Impressive. Unfortunately, the frosted glass was not very effective and it was possible to see that the bather was female.

  4. WOL says:

    Maybe “Louise” was refurbishing/renovating? — the solar panel is a nice — and practical!– touch. I love sharing “virtual” excursions with you. Your “person’s eye view” brings the city down to a nice scale. Living on a barge might be very interesting, especially if you could move about from time to time out into the country. — my barge would definitely have to have the “mod con” of wireless internet connection, though!

  5. Mellisa says:

    Wonderful read! I am having a fond looking for ghost signs, if you’ll try to really see you are going to find this details of the past still breathing=)

  6. BFG says:

    Methinks this comment is actually blog SPAM (blam?) – do a search in Google on the wording of the comment and you’ll find it all over the place. Too much of a coincidence IMHO. That and the fact that the address the name links to doesn’t exist, probably because the hacked site got picked up quickly…

    • SilverTiger says:

      (Comment deleted)

      I did wonder about it, actually, but didn’t think to do a search. I also noticed the URL didn’t load.

      Blog spam is becoming ever more subtle to the point where I often wonder what the point of it is.

      • BFG says:

        Maybe it’s just me in my old age 🙂

        The wording was slightly odd, which triggered my curiosity, and when I ran the link to which the name was connected through my trusty copies of IDServe and Neotrace and they came up with anomalies, I ran a quick Google search on the text and bingo! – several sites with the same wording, different names, different URLs, on the same day.

        The chance of every one being unique and genuine dropped so fast it made a hole in the floor 🙂

        Such sad individuals. Makes you wonder how they get out of bed in the morning without making a huge hole in the wall…

        • SilverTiger says:

          One comment was a rant against smoking addressed to “My fellow Libertarians”. It was attached to my post on smoking but not directly relevant to it. I found an identical post (with the same capitalization) on another site where it was equally lacking in relevance, so I deleted it.

          I generally delete comments that include commercial URLs or give as their own URL a commercial site. The name of the game is to create links and enhance their search-engine ranking.

Comments are closed.