Home » London Attractions » A Short History of Paddington Basin

A Short History of Paddington Basin

© 2020 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The Paddington and Grand Junction Canal was built after the success of the Duke of Bridgewater’s canal between Liverpool and Manchester. The Paddington Canal was a 13.5-mile long waterway, which terminated in a four-acre area of water called the Paddington Basin opened for traffic in 1801 to great public rejoicings with bells ringing, flags, and cannons were fired.

© 2020 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

This early excitement was replaced in the 1850s by concern when the Regent’s Canal was opened which led to a deterioration in trade. Around Paddington Basin were built wharves and warehouses dealing mostly with bricks, clay, coal, hay, cattle and vegetables.

© 2020 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

In the late 20th century, there were little need for warehouses and little business on the water and into the 21st century, a major redevelopment took place in the Paddington Basin area. Most of the development was modern buildings which housed small and medium-sized commercial offices for companies like Marks & Spencer. Most of the land north of the canal basin formed Merchant Square which included offices, homes and shops.

© 2020 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The Basin includes a couple of unusual bridges, The Rolling Bridge was conceived by Thomas Heatherwick and The Merchant Square Footbridge (also known as The Fan Bridge).

© 2020 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Merchant Square includes a life-size sculpture in memory of Sir Simon Milton who played a pivotal role in facilitating the regeneration of Paddington Basin. The Paddington Arm and Basin now includes a number of narrow boats and other boats and the water is surrounded by bars, restaurants and cafés.

© 2020 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

There is even a couple of floating restaurants and the area is now given over to leisure which is becoming very popular with people enjoying some peace and quiet next to the water and away from the surrounding busy streets.

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