Grand Union Paddington Arm Part 4 – Harlesden to Kensal Green


A slightly scruffy looking stretch of canal belies these electricity substations and their service bridges east of Acton Lane, Harlesden.

This was the site of METESCo’s Acton Lane power station, built in 1899. An aerial view of the complex can be seen at Britain from Above.


The canal enters a lengthy cutting from Acton lane to Old Oak Road. This semaphore signal is one of just a few left in the London area and as far as I know, the only one that can be seen next to any of the London canal network


Another landmark visible from the same cutting is the new Wembley stadium


The new Powerday depot at Old Oak which recieves spoils delivered by canal, rail and road


N/B Festina Lente passing derelict warehouses at the Hogarth Industrial Estate, Old Oak

There are few mileposts still in existence on the Paddington Arm. Those that exist do not say which way the mileage is being measured so guesses have to be made. That at Kensal Green (usually buried in undergrowth) denotes the three miles to Paddington. Despite being largely buried with rubble, those with a keen look-out may spot the the one before that at Kensal Green. Its number ’10’ barely just poking out of the ground opposite the Hogarth Industrial Estate, denotes the ten miles to/from Bulls Bridge.


Railway sidings can be seen for miles from the canal at Old Oak. The disused Eurostar depot is visible on the far side


Boats and trains galore near the North Pole. This quaintly named part of London actually exists! The freight train is on the North London line. The Kensal Green gasometers make their appearance as one ventures on foot or by boat along the straight between Old Oak and Acton Lane (Mitre Bridge.)


View from towpath to Old Oak railway service sidings. Many tracks now out of use and areas devoted to Crossrail construction.

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Mitre Bridge tries to make the Grand Union Canal sound big but nowadays road barriers have reduced the effect!


The large gasometers at Kensal Green. The popular visitor moorings give the impression of being in the country

The Kensal Green cemetery lines the north side of the canal. Whilst the cemetery is not quite in the same league as Hampstead, at least it has quite a number of notables including Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Charles Babbage. For a full list of the cemetery’s famous residents see this list provided by Friends of Kensal Green Cemetery


Wood Hall & Heward tug dashing through the Kensal Green moorings


The bridge over Kensal Green No2 basin

The two Kensal Green basins were once very busy with incoming traffic from the canal system. Many points in West London were served by these basins. Since the canals’ decline in the sixties, these basins have had their future undecided for years. Kensal Green no.1 basin is now home to a canoe club and flats. It has been reduced in size to make way for the Sainsbury’s superstore carpark. Kensal Green no.2 basin once served the gasworks but has not yet found a use and still remains out of use despite its potential as perhaps a substantial marina. Things however depend on the planned re-development of the Kensal Green gas works. Many would however prefer no development took place because the canal from Kensal Green towards Mitre bridge happens to be the last remaining bit of ‘country’ in West London.

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Kensal Green – Sainsbury’s moorings provides an useful stop over for food and clothes.

Paddington Arm – Part five

Paddington Arm pages: Paddington 1 Bulls Bridge to Northolt / Paddington 2 Northolt to Horsenden / Paddington 3 Alperton to Acton Lane / Paddington 4 Harlesden to Kensal Green / Paddington 5 Ladbroke Grove to Little Venice

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