Canal in Hackney

Running through the southern part of Hackney is the Regent’s Canal. Walk or cycle along it westwards and you get to Islington; eastwards to Victoria Park and the Olympic site. Named after the Prince Regent of the time, it was constructed over eight years, between 1812 and 1820.

It linked the Thames docks to the Grand Union Canal at Paddington. 8.5 miles long, it drops 96 feet through 12 locks. The main cargoes transported in the horse-drawn barges were coal, for the various gas works on its south bank, and timber, for Shoreditch’s furniture trade.

The horses needed three feeds a day and re-shoeing twice a month. Now it is the ringing of a cyclists’ bell which warns you of oncoming traffic the other side of a bridge. Then it was the crack of a horse’s whip.

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