Regentís Canal Opens
At 11am on August 1 1820 the completed Regentís Canal, named for and with the permission of the Prince Regent, the future George IV , was declared open. The project had suffered a few problems, to say the least, in spite of its royal connection and the presence of the great architect John Nash on its board.
The coal-barge owner Thomas Homer, the man who in 1802 had promoted the idea of building a canal to link the Grand Union Canal at Paddington to the Thames at Limehouse, and then became superintendent of the company that began building it in 1812, was in 1815 sentenced to seven yearsí transportation for embezzling huge sums from the organisation to pay his personal debts. William Congreve the inventor who made rockets a significant weapon pushed the company to use a revolutionary hydro-pneumatic lock at Hampstead Road that proved a disastrous failure, cost a fortune and didnít work, so a conventional system had to replace it. And work on the tunnels in the system Ė especially the Islington Tunnel, nearly 1000 yards long Ė cost more than expected.
Construction was halted temporarily in 1817 after the canal reached Camden ; and in the end the project cost more than £700,000, twice the original estimate. But eventually it was completed, and rapidly proved a commercial success. These days the waterfront remains commercially successful, but now for the views and the romance of waterside properties, with areas like Little Venice and Camden Lock of particular note.
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