Friends of Regent’s Canal - Meeting Report

Date and Time:
Wednesday 19th September 2016, 7pm to 8:45pm
Holborn Studios, Eagle Wharf Road. N1 7ED.
Ian Shacklock

1. Present

Adrian D boater
Ali Rawlings boater
Barbara Newman friend of boater
Rod Wakem resident
Gordon Meenn Reachview Resident
Lisa Tang Cally Arts
Julie Klovstad Pedestrian Bells project
Michael Rosenbaum Angel Canal Festival
Andrew Ghosh
Fiona Russell Reachview resident
Fiona Cullen Angel Association
Lisa Harmey Architect/local resident
Garrie Naden resident (Wenlock Basin)
Caroline Neller CHUG
Erica Jewell Pedestrian Bells project
Phil Canning Resident
Del Brenner Regents Network. London Waterways Commission; Regents Canal CAAC
Dohne Arnold Resident Noel Road
Nic Shore volunteer
Carolyn Clark Historian. Laburnum Boat Club
John MacMillan
Malcolm Tucker GLIAS
Ian Shacklock Friends of Regent's Canal
Jim Crooks Boater and resident
Rasu Gohil Resident
Mark Neal Resident
James Tregaskis Resident, Sturt's Lock
Anna Zucchelli Canal and River Trust heritage adviser
David Coomes EDCO Design
Christopher D. Cope Grafton Advisors
Ewan Graham Hawkins/Brown
Josh Cole Four Communications

2. Apologies

Andrew Deans

Andrew Dismore AM

Beryl Windsor

Councillor Carole Wiliams

Councillor Martin Klute

Councillor Paul Convery

Councillor Paul Tomlinson

Councillor Una O'Halloran

Councillor Rupert Perry

Fiona Maclean

Frances Balfour

Helen Brice

Jo Murray

Lee Wilshire

Martin Reading

Phil Emery

Ross Emerson

3. Introductions

3.1 At the start of the meeting, all the attendees introduced themselves.

4. Bi-centenary celebrations (Camden Town)


4.1 The first part of the Regent's Canal, from Little Venice to Camden Town was opened on 12th August 1816. A cake cutting ceremony took place on Friday 16th August at the Lock Keeper's Cottage and Coluncillor Richard Cotton, Deputy Mayor of Camden, gave a speech.

4.2 This was reported in the Camden New Journal and in Towpath Talk.

4.3 Prior to this event a special bi-centenary feature was published in the Camden New Journal.

4.4 There was a brief discussion on how we should celebrate the bi-centenary of the completion of the Regent's Canal in August 2020. Jim Crooks suggested that there should be a series of events over the next four years to mark the construction milestones in addition to the one-off event expected in August 2020.

5. Angel Canal Festival


5.1 The Angel Canal Festival took place on Sunday 4th September. Once again this attracted thousands of visitors to the City Road Basin and surrounding streets and the Friends of Regent's Canal had a stall below Hanover School.

5.2 Some colourful images of this event have been published in Towpath Talk

6. Morrisons redevelopment (Camden Town)


6.1 A large redevelopment is being proposed on the Morrisons site near Oval Road and the Friends of Regent's Canal had been selected as stakeholders for early consultation. The proposed buildings will not overlook or encroach on the canal but the developers are looking for opportunities for improving neighbouring amenities.

6.2 Initial ideas have included contributing to heritage and bi-centenary awareness (for example, putting plaques along the towpath). It was also suggested that ramps could be introduced to improve disabled visitors' access to the canal.

7. Ted Baker redevelopment (St Pancras Way)


7.1 There are proposals to redevelop the site known as the "Big Brown Ugly Building". The Friends of Regent's Canal had been invited to talks with the developers on 8th September but the first planned meeting was postponed due to unforeseen circumstances.

7.2 This site occupies a long stretch of the canal offside and it would be a seriously missed opportunity if no parts of the frontage are utilised for servicing boats and providing an interchange between road and water.

8. Boat Radio interviews

8.1 The Friends of Regent's Canal have been approached by a radio producer for Boat Radio, a new online radio station/podcast channel dedicated to all things aquatic and nautical. One of the first canal programmes would be a feature on the past, present and future of the Regent's Canal.

8.2 If anybody is interested in taking part in interviews on the towpath (between 25th September and 2nd October) then they should contact James Finlayson ( or

9. CRT mooring survey

On 19th September the Canal and River Trust issued a press release about a mooring survey. This survey runs from 19th September to 21st October and its objective is to understand the needs of boaters on London's waterways.

10. Development of Regent's Wharf


10.1 There are proposals to redevelop Regent's Wharf, a canalside site in All Saints Street between Caledonian Road and Battlebridge Basin. One of the historic warehouses is locally listed and half the buildings sit within the Regent's Canal West Conservation Area. There are no plans to alter the shape of the canal frontage and no water space will be lost, so there are no foreseen navigational issues. The main changes will be to the utilisation of the coutyards within the site and to various other interior features.

10.2 David Coomes (EDCO Design) led a presentation, supported by Christopher D. Cope (Grafton Advisors) and Ewan Graham (Hawkins/Brown)

10.3 Questions were raised about disruption to existing wildlife on the canal and about opportunities for additional mooring alongside the proposed cafe.

10.4 It was revealed that Islington Council had once requested an additional footbridge across the canal but this idea was excluded from the proposals and there was no support from the meeting for such a bridge.

10.5 A copy of the original exhibition displays (in PDF format) is available here

11. East End Canal Festival and Tower Hamlets Heritage project


11.1 Carolyn Clark reported on the East End Canal Heritage Project, run by Laburnum Boat Club, which focused on the Regent's and Hertford Union Canals. The project had successfully collected local stories, images and other material which culminated in the East End Canal Festival on 26th June. The aim was to attract local people who would not normally go to history events. The Festival had a very large heritage exhibition, an art exhibition, canal painting workshop and stalls from a host of agencies, including the London Canal Museum and Prefab Museum, the Geezers 'Where has my Pub Gone', Mahogany Carnival costumes, giant bubbles, pond dipping, face painting, boat trips from Laburnum and the Bow Boat Company, food from East End Women's Institute.

11.2 A film has been made of the project and festival which will be promoted on the Friends of Regent's Canal website. The event attracted over 1,000 followers on Twitter and over 60 volunteers. About 2,500 people came to the festival, 70% from Tower Hamlets and a further 18% from East London or Hackney. Feedback was very positive.

11.3 The exhibition on the Hertford Union Canal was displayed at the London Canal Museum. Also, a quiz booklet on the history of the Regent's and Hertford Union Canals had been produced and copies were available at the Friends meeting.

12. Heritage discussion

12.1 Del Brenner explained the relevance of the heritage of our canals, which have been of national importance for over two hundred years, and of great value to our nation. He pointed out that the canal network was a national asset which was held in perpetuity for the nation, and went on to add other important characteristics such as its protected open space character, and environmental importance as well as all the time being used actively as a navigation. It was emphasised that the profile of the canals needed to be raised to ensure that they continue to develop with the objective of thriving for the next two hundred years.

12.2 Del's comments were supported by a hand-out titled "How important are our canals?". This was circulated at the meeting and copy (in PDF format) is available here

13. Mooring capacity


13.1 There was a brief discussion on mooring and an informal map was circulated to illustrate availability of moorings along the Regent's Canal. It differentiated between casual moorings (typically on the towpath) and permanent moorings (typically on the offside, apart from private stretches in Westminster).

13.2 There are proposals to introduce electricity points in the St Peter's and Caledonian wards, following Islington Council's successful bid for DEFRA funding. In theory this would defuse much of the conflict between boaters and residents since it would reduce the need to run engines or generators. However, some canal users feared that it would destroy the rural feel of stretches like Vincent Terrace and most boats would need to be adapted to make use of these facilities. (One constraint is that most heating systems do not run off electricity).

14. Anti-social cycling

14.1 There was a brief discussion on towpath cycling and there are still strong feelings amongst canal users that cycling should be banned, simply because it seems impossible to bring things under control. Intimidation by cyclists is one of the biggest causes of complaints received by the Friends and it deters a lot of visitors from returning to the canal. This does not seem to give the authorities any great concern because overall visitor numbers are increasing.

14.2 The chair offered to write to the Canal and River Trust and to other bodies to express dissatisfaction that the problem still exists and that complaints were being dismissed.