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THE REGENTS CANAL

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The Regent's Canal was built to link the Grand Junction Canal's Paddington Arm, which opened in 1801, with the Thames at Limehouse. It was propsed by Thomas Homer who approached the architect John Nash, who was building Regent's Park, to become a director of the canal company. The Regent's Canal Act was passed in 1812 and Nash's assistant, James Morgan, was appointed as the canal's engineer. The canal was opened in two stages, from Paddington to Camden in 1816, and the rest of the Canal in 1820. A shortage of water for the canal resulted in the river Brent being dammed to create a reservoir in 1835 to provide the necessary water. The dam was extended in 1837 and again in 1854. When the canal opened the main center of trade was the Regent's Canal Dock where seabourne cargo was unloaded onto canal boats. City Road basin was the second most important traffic centre, handling incoming inland freight. Competition from the railways resulted in numerous attempts to turn the Regent's into a railway during the 19th century. However, such attempts proved unsuccessful. In the late 1920s talks took place between the Regent's Canal, the Grand Junction Canal, and the Warwick Canals, resulting in a merger in 1929. The Regent's Canal Company bought the assets of the other two Company's and the new enlarged undertaking was renamed as the Grand Union Canal Company. During the Second World War traffic increased on the canal and new stop gates were installed at King's Cross to limit flooding of the railway tunnels below in the event that the canal was breached by German bombs. The last horse drawn traffic was carried in 1956 and by the late 1960s commercial traffic had all but vanished. In 1968 the Old Limehouse Lock was filled in and a new connection was built between the Regent's and the Limehouse Cut.

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