Inventory Site Record

Regent's Canal (Islington section) including Battle Bridge Basin and City Road Basin (Islington)

Brief Description

The stretch of the Regent's Canal running from Regent’s Park across the heart of Islington was completed in 1820. The canals were used to transfer goods all around the country, and took cargo from sea-faring vessels to canal barges. The importance of the canals as a commercial route declined by the 1960s as a result of the increased popularity of rail and road. Regent’s Canal is now an important visitor attraction in Islington with the facilities of boating, fishing and cycling. It is also a popular venue for festivals and environmental educational trips. The Islington Boat Club now uses the main City Road Basin of the Canal. In 1992, the London Canal Museum was set up in a former ice warehouse on New Wharf Road as an educational resource. Regent’s Canal forms an important wildlife corridor, where plants rare for London are found. It is a breeding ground for numerous fish and birds, and among those that thrive here are waterfowl such as coot, moorhen, mallard and tufted ducks.

Practical Information
Site location:
West section: access at York Way, Caledonian Rd, Muriel Street. East section: access at Colebrooke Row, Danbury St, Wharf Road
N1 9RT (Canal Museum)
What 3 Words:
Type of site:
Public Open Land
Open to public?
Opening times:
London Canal Museum Tue-Sun, BH Mons 10am-4.30pm
Special conditions:
admission charge to London Canal Museum
Shop in London Canal Museum
Exhibitions, events, educational activities in London Canal Museum. Plus events organised by Friends of Regent's Canal; Canal & River Trust - see websites
Public transport:
West section: Tube/Rail: King's Cross (Northern, Metropolitan, Hammersmith & City; Circle, Victoria, Piccadilly). Bus: 17, 91, 259, 274. East:Tube: Angel (Northern). Numerous buses
Research updated:
Last minor changes:

Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.canalrivertrust.org.uk; www.islington.gov.uk; www.friendsofregentscanal.org

Full Site Description

The Regent's Canal runs from Little Venice to Limehouse Basin, and is 13.5 km long. It was part of the Grand Union Canal system, and was built to link the Grand Junction Canal's Paddington Arm, which opened in 1801, with the River Thames. The Canal was first proposed in 1802 by Thomas Homer, who owned a fleet of boats operating on the Grand Junction Canal that carried coal and building materials to Paddington and took horse manure to the country. The Regent's Canal was designed to connect the newly opened Paddington Branch of the Grand Junction Canal to the Thames at Limehouse, so that cargo arriving by sea could be distributed throughout central and southern England by barge. In 1811, Homer's proposal found approval with John Nash, at the time designing Regent's Park (q.v.). Nash's associate James Morgan drew up plans for the new canal in 1811, which were passed in Parliament under the Regent's Canal Act in 1812, the Prince Regent having given his consent to the name. Nash was a major shareholder and appointed Director of the new canal company, set up to build and manage it, and Morgan was appointed the company's Engineer, a post he held until 1835. He died in 1856 and is buried in the Brompton Cemetery (q.v.).

The stretch from Paddington to Regent's Park was completed by 1816, but completion of the full canal was delayed until 1820. The project had financial and other difficulties. Homer, who had been appointed Superintendent of the Regent's Canal Company in 1812, was later caught embezzling canal funds, and there were disputes with William Agar, landowner of part of the Manor of St Pancras through which the canal was to be routed. The canal's importance for trade was later superseded by the coming of the railways. The section of the canal that runs through Islington comprises 1.8 km with two open sections at either end of the Islington Tunnel, which opened in 1820. City Road Basin, which also opened in 1820, is the main basin of the Canal and now used by Islington Boat Club. The London Canal Museum is on New Wharf Road, N1 in a former ice warehouse. The Canal forms an important wildlife corridor with plants rare for London, fish and waterfowl with coot, moorhen, mallard and tufted ducks breeding here. Some areas along the towpath have been planted with ornamental and native shrubs and trees. At City Road Basin is a landscaped seating area with fish-shaped mosaic benches and a series of wall plaques showing the Canal designed and created by Year 6 pupils of Hanover School working with artists Martin Cottis and Charlie Tumms of Monster Creations in collaboration with Islington Narrowboat Association; this was completed in July 2001.

On 2 July 2012, British Waterways ceased to exist in England and Wales and in its place the Canal & River Trust was set up to care for 2,000 miles of historic waterways.

Sources consulted:

Michael Waite, John Archer, 'Nature Conservation in Islington', Ecology Handbook 19 (London Ecology Unit), 1992; Bridget Cherry & Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: London 4: North (Penguin, 1998), pp668/9 and 678

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ303834 (530350,183450)
Size in hectares:
3.7 in LB Islington
Site ownership:
Canal & River Trust
Site management:
Canal & River Trust and LB Islington Greenspace; Friends of Regent's Canal
1820; C20th
Listed structures:
On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:

Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:

Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:


Local Authority Data

The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.

On Local List:
In Conservation Area:
Conservation Area name:
East: Duncan Terrace/Colebrooke Row. West: Regent's Canal West
Tree Preservation Order:
Not known
Nature Conservation Area:
Yes - Metropolitan Importance (Angel canal tunnel)
Green Belt:
Metropolitan Open Land:
Special Policy Area:
Other LA designation:
East: Area of Opportunity (part). West: Strategic/local View corridor (part)

Please note the Inventory and its content are provided for your general information only and are subject to change. It is your responsibility to check the accuracy.