Is Londonist’s canal knowledge spot on?
Londonist published a feature (8 August 2016) extolling the virtues of Paddington, including trains, bears, and canals – exactly what one expects to find in the area! 😉
It mentions Paddington Basin as a branch of the Regent’s Canal….
Many would say that’s a mistake as it’s a branch off the Grand Union Canal.
It’s indeed not a Regent’s Canal branch – yet at the same time it is!
How does that work?
Let’s look at the history. Paddington basin was built & opened in 1801 as part of the Grand Junction so the basin is that canal company’s creation.
The Regent’s Canal was opened in stages, the first bit was from the Grand Junction Canal at Paddington to Camden in 1816 (at the time of writing the actual anniversary had just passed almost totally unnoticed by the authorities).
To build the Regent’s Canal a three way junction was built just north of the Harrow Road (if it had been built south of that road as originally planned we would have not had a Little Venice). This junction enabled barges to head towards Greenford/Bulls Bridge or straight into Paddington basin with ease.
In that respect, for the purposes of navigation/commercial carrying, Paddington basin was indeed a branch off the Regent’s Canal. There was agreement with the Grand Junction for through working so the Regent’s traffic could serve both basin and railway station.
In the 1920s the Regent’s bought the Grand Junction. The basin then became an official branch of the Regent’s whose new Grand Union Canal extended it’s empire from Paddington to Birmingham and Leicester.
The same continues today with one overall body in charge of the waterways hence Londonist is quite correct 🙂