Attempts to Control the Canal Industries

The Vestry having been unable to prevent the building of the Regent's Canal, the Commissioners of the Bishop of London's Estate tried to control the use of the Paddington Basin land. They published this  stern set of rules

'The Commissioners of the Bishop of London's Estate specifically preclude the following trades being carried out by their tenants - Catgut-spinner, Hog skinner, Boiler of horse flesh, Slaughter-man, Soap boiler, Melter of tallow, Farrier, Tinman, Vintner, Beer seller, and Victualers, or any other noisesome or offensive trades.' 1

Nevertheless, in 1860 there were to be no fewer than 36 slaughterhouses. The Commissioners were powerless in the face of multiple sub-leases and the power of the market. At the Basin there were separate wharves for salt, cement, hay and straw, ale, rubbish, manure, and half a hundred things.

Pickfords had huge warehouses packed with furniture, either in transit, or in store. Double-decker sheep boats brought flocks to the Basin for slaughter. There was smelting of bronze and the clang of blacksmiths shoeing hundreds of canal and railway horses.

In 1836, manure was piled on the side of the Basin higher than the cottages. The water was a fetid pool and the Vestry demanded a thorough cleaning, while St Mary's Hospital complained about the stench. The Grand Junction Canal Company blamed careless warfingers and the illicit dumping of manure.1

Clearly both Vestry and Commissioners were out of their depths and the polecats, which were once the local menace, had long since gone, to be replaced by far more formidable ones.

pic42The 1848 Lucas map showing Little Venice and
the first houses built on the high ground above the basin.



1 VCH P. 237 42

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Updated June 28, 2011