The walls of the basin below the water line were remarkably sound, while parts above were eroded. Soon the walls were covered with lines instructing the bricklayers to brush down, re-point or completely re-brick different areas. The canal was narrowed at two points and the walls capped all round with pre-cast concrete blocks. These are very strong, made with a granite aggregate, and with lighting positions and flush mooring rings ready cast in position.

At the time when the new St. Mary's Hospital was built, the Canal Basin was derelict. There was no point in making the elevation facing the canal attractive, as it seemed that nobody would ever see it. Now, to the new buildings along North Wharf Road, the hospital wall would become an eyesore - a flat slab of brick which merely served to cut out the sun. In view of this, the developers built foundations along the length of the hospital wall but not attached to it. These were designed to support a wide boarded towpath walk and large containers for plants.

Huge concrete boxes, completely watertight and each weighing over 5 tons, would be floated into the basin, ballasted with gravel and soil and positioned along the hospital wall. Mature trees about six metres tall and high creepers, would then mask the hospital wall.

The Hospital plans to convert its present semi-basement car parking to medical use, putting in normal windows in place of the dark and forbidding voids seen at present. A new wooden public walkway, with slatted treads, will run above the water, along the length of the hospital. In this way a public towpath running the complete length of the basin will be created on the Praed Street side This will become a new, attractive amenity which, with the tall screen of trees and creepers to soften the stark hospital wall, would transform the view.

Old wharf-side warehouses still standing in 2001 but to be demolished.


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Updated January 29, 2011