The Regents Canal’s two western tunnels, Maida Hill and Lisson Grove are without a doubt the most well known of the London canal tunnels.
A trip on the waterbus takes people along the attractive stretch of canal by Blomfield Road and under the Edgware Road through Maida Hill Tunnel – a view of which is seen here (below) from Maida Avenue. Cafe Laville sits atop the tunnel.
Scenes from the top end of the canal cutting at various times of the year:
Cafe Laville in summer.
Snow in January 2003.
An atmospheric view of the eastern end of Maida Hill tunnel, with President at speed towing Kildare.
Boats waiting for passage through Maida Hill. Lisson Grove tunnel in background.
The land to the right was once occupied by warehouses and a stone yard. Chutes hung over the canal ready to load aggregates directly into boats. This location was used for a Doctor Who episode – ‘The Invasion’ (1968) The doctor and Jamie paddled in a canoe along the canal and into Maida Hill tunnel to escape from the Cybermen. Other TV series that have used Maida Hill tunnel include The Human Jungle starring Herbert Lom (1963) where the tunnel is used as the background for a psychological nightmare.
Compared to Maida Hill the portals at Lisson Grove were more elaborate – perhaps either signifying the importance of the land it passed under or as a visual improvement to placate the land owners and locals for having to build the canal on this alignment between Paddington Stop and Park Road – a route that involved the demolition of houses and a new road that had not long been built – of which Aberdeen Place is its stump. So much trouble was involved trying to placate landowners and locals in finding a way from Paddington towards Regents Park – but of course as a result we have these two canal tunnels!
Despite being just fifty yards long Lisson Gove tunnel is quite lengthy once inside, despite looking somewhat like a bridge with a house on top! The eastern portal is quite elaborate for any of the canal tunnels in London. In the early years of the Regent’s Canal there would have been a earth bank, perhaps grassed over, from the portal up to Lisson Grove itself, but the Upside Down House now occupies that space.
This is a view of the Upside Down House (officially called Canal House) from street level. It looks like a very small country cottage. Its main entrance, seen here, is at street level whilst its lower floors sit astride the tunnel portal. The house may give rise to the idea it is a bridge – since buildings are common on bridges worldwide, such as Pulteney bridge in Bath. The gate gives access down to the canal.
The London Canal Tunnels pages:
introduction / islington / maida hill & lisson grove