Newspaper headlines called them:

'A gang of savage, ungovernable banditti!

`Yorkshire Billy, sometimes known as Slender Jane, together with Red Jack, have terrorised every county they have worked in.'

`Two men working on the canal were apprehended for sheep stealing'.

`Three navigators assaulted a person near the Common Pond (at the back gate of Mrs Chilvers) and kicked the man in the ribs until he became unconscious.'

These were typical newspaper headlines describing the passage through the countryside of the gangs building the canals. They had a frightful reputation and respectable Paddington wanted nothing of them. An act of Parliament was passed allowing the canal through despite local protests. Investors were delighted to have their Parliamentary Act and set to work with vigour, sweeping all before them, but this conflict between industry and residential peace would continue. For the whole of the next century the Vestry would battle to separate the trade and manufacture round the Basin, from the respectable stucco of Bayswater. In the meantime, trade had called the tune.

The original sketch of the canal had been drawn in just before the end of the Eighteenth Century on the Bishop of London’s Estate map (printed earlier). Below is the official map of the Grand Junction Canal at Paddington, showing the wharves along the Edgware Road and a ‘Bason’ for pleasure boats. Much of the existing North Wharf Road was to be a market, with reservoirs for drinking water on the present railway land and warehouses in Sussex Gardens.

The Original Plan for the Termination of the Grand Junction Canal in Sussex Gardens

The original canal basin position sketched in on the Bishop of London's Estate Map.

It had to be placed in this position, which was level,
to prevent the water from pouring out at one corner.

(Move your mouse over the map to show how the area looked in 1894.)


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Updated February 7, 2012