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Boat Blog: Mooching around London (1)

Posted by indigodream on 7 July, 2010

Tuesday 29th June & Friday 2nd July

It is cruel having your first go on a tiller just before a bend and bridge!

It is cruel having your first go on a tiller just before a bend and bridge!

Aha, I’ve taken over the blog from Sue. No doubt you’ll find it an engrossing read being full of satisfyingly technical details – she was saying the other day how the blog has become a bit dull now that we’re back on familiar waters.

These weekday evenings were an opportunity for me to take some work colleagues out on the boat in Central London.

Tuesday night’s trip saw Kathleen, Jess, Joy, Mairead, Nick, Paul, Sotirios and Steve joining me and Karolina (from my  office – Sue was unavailable ) for our journey from outside Battlebridge Basin to Paddington. Once we got everybody a glass of sugar free lemonade we settled into a routine with Karolina supervising the steerers whilst I supervised the locking crew.

We had a fantastic evening for a cruise, only the men drove, but they quickly got the hang of things, I didn’t see Karolina hit them at any time and one virgin steerer was even brave enough to drive faultlessly through the Maida Vale tunnel.

The trip was a bit of a busman’s holiday for the electrical people in the group:

Locking crew in action

Locking crew in action

The works at the back of Kings Cross are SESA replacing the 400kV cable troughs in the towpath so that got scrutinised.

Then obviously we went past the old Grove Road Power Station which used to get its coal deliveries by canal, hence that big area now used for moorings. Some of the buildings were drawn by Stanley Peach, founder of the practice of Architects still in existence, though very few of his Grove Road designs still exist. I have a few of his original drawings in my archives and also an old drawing showing loading cranes, coal stock piles and narrowboats in the canal.

The power station was built by the Westminster Electric Supply Corporation in 1902 and used to generate 57MW which is tiny in today’s terms. The site is now St Johns Wood and Lodge Road sub-stations – just one modern cable feeding the site carries more power then the old Power Station could generate! Mind you, as with many other sub-stations, they were often built on the site of the old power stations as that is how the distribution cables are routed. There are still 80-year old cables coming out from there feeding various parts of London.

Coming into the top lock at Camden

After St Johns Wood we went under Aberdeen Place. Most people know about the pub, Crockers Folly – a grandiose establishment (hopefully now re-opened) built there in the mistaken belief that Marylebone Station would be built nearby. For the electrical crew there was Aberdeen Place Sub-station to look at instead and, if you’re really quick, there is Marylebone Sub-station. This is an Owen Keith/Richard/Tony Markwick design; well Owen & Richard made Tony’s architectural concept stand up – engineers generally can’t take any credit for how a structure looks. The land to our left as we headed towards Paddington was the old Marylebone Power Station built in 1905 by the local Council. Again it got its coal by canal; I have a drawing of it somewhere that shows narrowboats being unloaded between Lisson Grove and the Maida Vale Tunnel hence the canal widening there.

Out journey was deliberately planned from east to west as one of the party commutes on a daily basis from South Wales so there was a certain satisfaction in not catching the tube but being dropped off in style just by the side entrance to Paddington Station just in time to catch the 19:12. Perfect!

Well done Pauline!

The next trip was on Friday when I, and my colleague, Simon, took a bunch of architects and surveyors (Ben, Chris, Dave, Judi, Mike, Pauline & Peter) for a trip from Paddington towards City Road. We managed to get a mooring on the ‘stop ‘n shop’ moorings at Camden, or rather what used to be the ‘stop ‘n shop’ moorings – the sign seems to have diappeared along with the scaffolding. The ladies went off to explore Camden Market, the men discussed the price of tea. This little interlude allowed Sue to catch up with us after her “lunch” in Tunbridge Wells which finished at 5pm….

The evening started a little overcast but gradually became mighty fine and a nice end to what has been a busy week.  Camden was busy enough to be interesting – the trip boats were doing a good trade. Below Camden we managed to meet the wide beam cruiser that had been moored on the St Pancras lock moorings – their engine’s obviously fixed.

St Pancras Lock

There was much of interest to the Architects but it was lost a bit on the Engineers! I remember them mentioning the eggs on the TV AM building and the industrial remnants look of the Nicholas Grimshaw Architects building – the Grand Union Walk Housing built in 1988 just below the  Camden locks for £1.65M

Lou was her usual tarty self at Camden and seduced a lady from New York who has a grey (Ella, I think) on the other side of the pond. The lady, Nina, was entranced by Lou’s tiger-stripe brindle and Sue persuaded her to take a 2011 greyhoundhomer calendar (featuring two of Lou’s best poses) home to the big apple. Nina gave a generous £10 for the calendar – donating her change to the cause – thanks! Our charity collection did very well this week – we tend to ask guests to drop some money into our collection box rather than bring gifts of wine etc. Both weekday groups were incredibly generous and between them gave £160 which Sue is dropping off to Greyhoundhomer next week

We got to City Road and found that the moorings were still packed – it feels strange to be in London during the summer months as our normal cruising pattern brings us here in the quieter spring and autumn months when City Road is empty!

Islington Tunnel

We got several offers to brest up but it is awkward with our dogs so we turned round and moored again just down from Battlebridge Basin.

We’d filled up on a load of nibbles as we were cruising along so we didn’t need to find a restaurant. However, everyone had a cruel thirst so we set off for the pub. We decided to try the ‘Canal’ bar just across Bridge 37 (below Battlebridge Basin). Although it looks like a trendy wine bar, to our amazement it was dog-friendly. Very dog-friendly – the ground floor terrace and bar were a little crowded for our big group so they suggested the upstairs terrace – we had a balcony all to ourselves and sat outside in the balmy evening enjoying a beer and some banter. There was a large screen just inside, so the football fans could glance at the match every now and then. Blue and Lou quietly settled onto their sheepskins, though Lou did protest a little because there didn’t seem to be any sausages forthcoming!

A good evening was had by all! Twice!

Islington Tunnel again - we went through it twice!

View from our mooring

2 Responses to “Boat Blog: Mooching around London (1)”

  1. Nina said

    Dear Sue and Richard, Lou and Blue,
    Meeting all of you was the highlight of my trip to London! Thanks for all the greyt work you are doing for the dogs. They really are the best breed in the world – and of course I’m not prejudiced! When I got home I told Ella all about Lou and Blue and their parents. She also thanks you for the work you do for “her people”.
    Thanks, Sue, for the tour of the boat. I have long wanted to see inside a narrow boat, so it was a real treat for me. I especially loved how almost every inch of floorspace was covered with dog beds – just like my home!
    All my best to all of you. Have a wonderful summer!
    Nina from New York

  2. indigodream said

    Nina, it’s so great to hear from you – please give Ella a BIG hug from us.

    I visited the greyhound rehoming kennels today to give them the money. I said ‘hello’ to the dogs in the rehoming kennels and had to stop myself from bringing home a very sweet boy whom I though would fit in very well with our pack. Just as well I didn’t have Blue and Lou with me – if they’d liked the dog as well I’m not sure I could have resisted!

    All the best.

    Sue, Blue and Lou

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