Kensington Canal

Canal in/near Chelsea, existed between 1828 and 1859.

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Canal · * · ·
The Kensington Canal was a canal, about two miles long, opened in 1828 in London from the River Thames at Chelsea, along the line of Counter’s Creek, to a basin near Warwick Road in Kensington.

It had one lock near the Kensington Basin. It was not commercially successful, and was purchased by a railway company, which laid its line along the route of the canal.

Counter’s Creek was a minor tributary of the Thames running south from Kensal Green to join the main river west of Battersea Bridge.

Lord Kensington, William Edwardes, seeing the success of the Regent’s Canal, asked his surveyor William Cutbush in 1822 to draw up plans to convert the creek into a canal, with the object of bringing goods and minerals from the London docks to the Kensington area, then a rural district isolated from London.

After some modifications, Cutbush’s plan obtained Parliamentary sanction in 1824, and the Kensington Canal Company was incorporated in that year. William Edwardes and a group of his friends were the proprietors; the cost of construction had been estimated as £7,969. The share capital of the company was £10,000 in one hundred shares of £100 each, and they had powers to raise an additional £5,000 if necessary.

However this was a gross under-estimate, and John Rennie estimated that more than £34,000 would be needed to complete the work properly, including the rebuilding of Stamford Bridge. Rennie’s nominee, Thomas Hollinsworth, was brought in as surveyor to the Canal Company.
In May 1826 the Company obtained powers by another Act to raise a further £30,000.

Notwithstanding this quadrupling of the anticipated cost of construction, the proprietors still entertained the notion of extending the canal northward to connect with the Grand Junction Canal at Paddington, involving eleven locks, was still under consideration.

The successful tenderer appears to have been Robert Tuck, probably in partnership with John Dowley. Work started in the same year, but was delayed by the bankruptcy of the contractor, Robert Tuck, and it was not opened until 12 August 1828.

Traffic soon proved to be very limited, and in the mid-1830s Lord Holland described the canal as a total failure.

The River Thames is tidal at the point where the canal joined it, so the canal was also tidal up to the lock near Kensington. The tidal flow brought silt into the canal and the feed from Counter’s Creek was inadequate to clear it, so that problems were soon experienced with obstruction to the passage of vessels. More seriously, the times of day when vessels could navigate the canal were extremely short and constantly changing.

In the mid-1830s railways were being projected. Attention was given to gaining access for goods and minerals to and from the London docks, and proposals were developed for a railway branch to the canal; trans-shipping there to or from river lighters would give the desired connection.

A railway company was floated, called the Bristol, Birmingham and Thames Junction Railway, and when it was incorporated in 1836 it purchased the canal. The purchase price was £36 000, of which £10 000 was to be paid in cash and the remainder in shares in the new company.

The grandiose name of the railway was altered to the West London Railway, and it built a short railway line from Willesden, joining with the main line railways there, to the canal basin. The railway line was leased to the London and Birmingham Railway in 1846, but it continued to own the canal; the Kensington Canal Company was wound up in the same year.

The railway and canal combination was utterly unsuccessful, and the hoped-for traffic never appeared. The main line railways—the Great Western and the London and North Western Railway (as successor to the London and Birmingham Railway) -- needed a rail connection to lines south of the Thames, and in 1859 an authorising Act of Parliament gave authority to a joint venture of several railway companies to extend the railway south from Kensington, converting the canal to a railway. At the southern end the railway diverged a little to the west of the canal, and crossed the Thames on a large bridge. This left a short stub of the original waterway in existence, from the Thames almost to Stamford Bridge: it served flour mills and the Imperial Gas Works, until traffic ceased in 1967.

Construction of the railway built over the remainder of the canal, and the later railway developments in Earls Court completely obliterated the canal.

Its original course can best be understood by considering the route of the present day West London Line from the Thames to Kensington High Street.

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None so far :(

Added: 7 Jul 2024 16:26 GMT   

Haycroft Gardens, NW10
My Grandfather bought No 45 Buchanan Gdns in I believe 1902 and died ther in the early 1950s

Added: 7 Jul 2024 16:20 GMT   

Haycroft Gardens, NW10
I lived in No 7 from 1933 to 1938


Sylvia guiver   
Added: 4 Jul 2024 14:52 GMT   

Grandparents 1937 lived 37 Blandford Square
Y mother and all her sisters and brother lived there, before this date , my parent wedding photographers were take in the square, I use to visit with my mother I remember the barge ballon in the square in the war.

Born here
Roy Mathieson   
Added: 27 Jun 2024 16:25 GMT   

St Saviours
My great grandmother was born in Bowling Green Lane in 1848. The family moved from there to Earl Terrace, Bermondsey in 1849. I have never been able to locate Earl Terrace on maps.


Added: 26 Jun 2024 13:10 GMT   

Buckhurst Street, E1
Mt grandfather, Thomas Walton Ward had a musical instrument workshop in Buckhurst Street from 1934 until the street was bombed during the war. Grandfather was a partner in the musical instrument firm of R.J. Ward and Sons of Liverpool. He died in 1945 and is buried in a common grave at Abney Park Cemetery.

Lived here
Mike Dowling   
Added: 15 Jun 2024 15:51 GMT   

Family ties (1936 - 1963)
The Dowling family lived at number 13 Undercliffe Road for
Nearly 26 years. Next door was the Harris family

Evie Helen   
Added: 13 Jun 2024 00:03 GMT   

Vickers Road
The road ’Vickers Road’ is numbered rather differently to other roads in the area as it was originally built as housing for the "Vickers" arms factory in the late 1800’s and early 1900s. Most of the houses still retain the original 19th century tiling and drainage outside of the front doors.


Paul Harris    
Added: 12 Jun 2024 12:54 GMT   

Ellen Place, E1
My mother’s father and his family lived at 31 Ellen Place London E1 have a copy of the 1911 census showing this


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Chelsea Farm was constructed in the 17th century and was used for market gardening, supplying central London. The Earl of Huntingdon, in the middle of the eighteenth century, rebuilt Chelsea Farm as a house rather than a farm. It became the residence of the Countess of Huntington, a pious Methodist. Chelsea Farm was bought in 1778 by Thomas Dawson, who was created Viscount Cremorne in 1785. Cremorne House was then built along with Ashburnham House and Ashburnham Cottage. By the early 1800s the grounds extended north from the river Thames up to the King’s Road. The estate was famous for its elegant gardens, laid out by Nathaniel Richmond. After Lady Cremorne’s death (his second wife, who was the grand-daughter of William Penn, who founded Pennsylvania) there were no direct male heirs. In 1825 the ‘Lammas’ rights of common grazing were abolished and in 1831 it was sold to Charles Random who established a ’National Sporting Club’, called the Stadium, in the grounds for ’the cultivation of skilful and manly exercise’ which included shooting, sailing, bathing, archery and fencing. The name lives on in Stadium Street. The venture failed and he was forced to surrender the property to his creditors.
Credit: Kensington and Chelsea Libraries
TUM image id: 1526048909
Perrymead Street, SW6
TUM image id: 1466600332
Licence: CC BY 2.0
Walham Green station platform (1939)
TUM image id: 1668003602
Licence: CC BY 2.0

In the neighbourhood...

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Early 20th century view looking south towards the railway.
Credit: London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham
Licence: CC BY 2.0

Finborough Road, Chelsea
Credit: Nancy Weir Huntly (1890-1963)

Plan of the Redcliffe Estate, developed by Corbett and McClymont, 1860s. Until the development in the 1860s, the area was entirely rural, with villages at Earl’s Court and Little Chelsea, and the intervening land occupied by market gardens, grassland and paddocks.
Licence: CC BY 2.0

Walham Green Station (1907) This later became Fulham Broadway station.
Licence: CC BY 2.0

Walham Green station platform (1939)
Licence: CC BY 2.0

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