Paddington’s depression?

No, Paddington Bear is certainly NOT going through a bad phase.

This is about the real Paddington, that ‘depressing,’ ‘lifeless’ place developers such as Renzo Piano claim needs livening up.

Fact #1 Paddington once had a lively town centre, with shops, cinemas, restuarants, and a famous theatre.

Fact #2 The A40 Westway was sent right through the heart of Paddington. Its lively heart was ripped out for the sake of a motorway and an ugly flyover. Barely any bits remain – save for the pleasant green and historic church that now has a thunderous motorway along one side.

Fact #3 These new developments are everywhere. They do not give Paddington an unique identity but make it worse. Let’s take an example – Paddington Basin. Developers have reduced the size of the water space and ruined the real potential this space could have given. Further, they do not want it to be known as Paddington Basin but Merchant Square.

Fact #4 Paddington has managed to survive these ravages. But it needs a cohesive plan, not huge dollops of facetious development randomly plonked here and there.

Yes Paddington Basin (the so-called Merchant Square) is unfortunately a dump just as is Paddington Central (including Sheldon Square) and that damn ugly 1960’s A40(M) Westway. They’re all destroying the area’s character.

Do I need say more? Nope. The article shewn below from the West End Extra says it all really.

Pathetic land and air grab - letter by Dominic Pinto 30/10/15

Pathetic land and air grab – letter by Dominic Pinto 30/10/15

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Towpath gates and a dangerous road

Following on from the earlier post featuring a collation of news snippets regarding canal towpath cycling in the W2/W9/NW8 areas, here’s another similar post, this time concerning the dreadful pedestrian route over the top of Maida Hill tunnel – and of course those ubiquitous gates at the Lisson Grove moorings – which seem to open and close at times clearly suited to the whims of a particular guy who spends his days captaining either the waterbuses or Prince Regent.

Some days the gates dont even open! The gates have clearly denoted times of opening and closing at either end of the Lisson Grove moorings, yet as I and many others have observed there’s very little regard made to these published times. At one time I kept a tally of the times the gates did (or did not open) and complained to British Waterways about it. Have even tweeted about the gates being shut at the wrong times or never opened at all.

The problem of public access to the section past the Lisson Grove moorings has been ongoing for years now – there are problems with the gates being shut at unauthorised times every single summer and winter.

I now fully realise those many past complaints dont exist because as we will see, Canal & River Trust claim it is only just recently that people are complaining.

Besides myself, many other people actually complained to British Waterways too. I know about this and I have seen the correspondence on this. It comes as a shock then that Canal & River Trust make a largesse claim in their statement below: “There are many people that have enjoyed use of this towpath over the years without cause to complain.

Yes, indeed CRT, lets just pretend that no-one has complained until of late, let’s just say its been happening since mid 2015!

A brief history of the management of the Lisson Grove gates: These were previously managed by Thames 21 who found its representive very unreliable. Guess what. The same problems existed then as now! We are talking about 8 years or so back. The person operating the gates was eventually dismissed and other people took over the job before British Waterways scrapped the contract and did the task with its own employees once again.

In the long run up to Canal & River Trust management, British Waterways issued a new contract for the management of the Lisson Grove gates. Guess what? The same person employed (and dismissed) by Thames 21 comes back and the task is up to him once again.

Clearly they (being mainly the same management team that migrated from British Waterways days) are burying their head in the sand once again.

Is there any wonder that the whole thing is a shambles? Oh dont worry! If the gates are closed one can always damn well walk through the Wharncliffe Gardens estate, the Lisson Green estate and via the Pateley Street footbridge!

They might as well throw away the keys and make this other route the official one! Someone might lose their job but at least people walking the towpath wont loose their heads trying to make heads or tails of the strange and unreliable management of the gates at either end of the Lisson Grove moorings – nor worry that their complaints will be instantly dispatched to the great filing cabinet in the sky!

Again this curation of relevant items concerning the route over the top of the canal tunnel comes from the very useful Westminster Labour website:

Blomfield Road/Edgware Road

We have asked the Road Safety Team to investigate this issue which has been raised by a number of residents:

“As a resident of Clarendon Gardens for many years, I can only add to the concern expressed about pedestrian risk at the western end of Blomfield Road by saying that the eastern end, the turn off the Edgware Rd, is equally dangerous. Apart from the lack of a crossing, this very heavily used rat run is made very unsafe by drivers tuning into Blomfield Road at high speed long after the lights have turned red against them. Can the police be persuaded to arrest/install safety cameras here? They would make a lot of money in fines.”

“The crossing has several issues which we would like to highlight below and hope you will be able to assist to make this a safer place for residents and visitors, in particular pedestrians:

• Blomfield Road has no camera. There is an increasing number of drivers that run the red light to cross. We assume these to be locals, aware of the traffic light system and lack of a camera on Blomfield road. This seems to be an increasing issue.
• Blomfield Road has no pedestrian crossing. there is no safe moment for pedestrians to cross as there is always one direction of drivers having the green light to cross. pedestrians have to endure a lot of verbal abuse when trying to cross and slowing down cars trying to enter/leave the road. we have witnessed and endured this on endless occasions.
• The pedestrian crossing across Edgware Road has a very short green light, which does not give pedestrians enough time to cross safely. Especially the elderly and families. 
• The kerb on the side of Aberdeen Place, where pedestrians press the green light to cross Edgware Road and wait for the green light, is not raised. A lot of cars coming from Blomfield Road run over the curb and are of great danger to pedestrians. We have witnessed this on numerous occasions.
• Edgware Road is often congested, especially during peak hours (e.g. mornings). This causes the crossing to be blocked by cars pushing in despite the congestion. This includes many London buses, which cause a dangerous barrier. During these peak hours it is near impossible to cross as the crossing is never clear with the green light. There are also many cars coming from Blomfield Road trying to push into the already congested Edgware Road and continue their journey on Edgware Road when the pedestrians have the green light, putting them into great danger.
• Cyclists coming from Aberdeen Place have their own green light. They often ignore or are not aware of pedestrians crossing at Blomfield road, which lacks a crossing. Pedestrians can’t hear the bicycles approaching and/or are not aware of the bike lane system. There have been many near misses.
The fact that the crossing is very busy with families and tourists walking along the canal makes it even more dangerous for these pedestrians as they are slower and/or unfamiliar with the dangerous light system.”

**I absolutely agree. The Edgware Road/Aberdeen Place/Madia Avenue/Blomfield Road junction is a mess!! The layout means a lot of motirists run the lights especially to/from Blomfield Road. As well as that, there’s a mighty surprise being that traffic from Maida Avenue can go in other directions not controlled by the lights and vehicles carrying out these manouvers often catch people unawares!! Westminster Council doesnt seem too bothered about this.

Lisson Grove moorings

The Canal and River Trust tell us;

“Having looked at our records there have been few complaints made regarding access at this site and those that have been formally logged with us have been dealt with accordingly. We currently use an external company that manage the gates on behalf of the Canal & River Trust at a fairly substantial cost. We have had two complaints in the last couple of months regarding the person responsible for the opening and closing of the gates and we have been working with them to resolve these problems. There are many people that have enjoyed use of this towpath over the years without cause to complain. However, we are always looking at ways of improving the canal users experience and I am looking into alternative ways of managing the access at this site with a view to improving current practice which will include clear signage indicating exact opening and closing times of the gates.”

Also we have written again to enquire about “what has happened about the horrible CYCLISTS DISMOUNT notices which wreck the beautiful gates down to the Canal from Lisson Grove?”, raised by a resident.

Regent’s Canal

We have made enquiries with the Canal & River Trust about the following matter;

“During good weather I try to walk to work from the north end of Edgware Road. I walk down Aberdeen Place to the Regent’s Canal and it has been shut on many occasions. Last summer I complained to the Canal and River Trust on several occasion with very little effect. On one occasion the gate closest to Aberdeen Place was open but the gate at near Regent’s Park was closed and I couldn’t exit (I ended up being late for work)! On another occasion I was going down the steps to the canal 20 minutes before the closing time and the person who had come along to close the gate refused to let me in and also a group of tourist – according to him we couldn’t make it to the next gate in 20 minutes! It normally takes me 6/7 minutes. I have started walking to work again and yesterday I got to the gate at 8.40am and it was closed. At times I have caught someone opening the gate (at much later time then advertised) and when I have pointed out the opening/shutting hours they have been quite rude. In my experience the gates are very rarely opened and shut at the designated time. I have lived in my area for a long time and I have realised that the opening/closing times of the gates to the canal are really at the whim of those living on the boats!”

Regent’s Canal

We have made enquiries with the Canal and River Trust following receiving the following enquiry;

“There is a lovely walk along the canal from Little Venice to Regent’s Park. This is used by many tourists as well as residents. There are two gates at the entrance to that walk. A sign on the gates gives the opening times but they are often locked for no reason even at weekends when the walk is very popular. I have complained to Canal and River Trust but with no result. It is very frustrating – especially for the poor tourists. I would be most grateful if you could ask them for an explanation.”

The Canal and River Trust has told us;

“I would like to apologise for the inconvenience towpath users are experiencing in regards to the locked gates between Little Venice and Regents Park. The gates situated at Lisson Grove moorings are there to provide much needed security to the long term mooring site located on the towpath. The opening hours are based on reasonable assessment of the demands of towpath users and the potential limitations with the contract in place for these gates being opened/closed. There is an alternative route in place, as marked on signage at site, which runs along the opposite side of the canal which enables visitors to continue their journey alongside the waterway albeit at street level but given that the Maida Tunnel is located 100yds from the moorings visitors have to leave the towpath at that point anyhow. We are aware of the current situation of the gates not being accessible at its required times, and our moorings manager is currently investigating the situation.”

The duckweed war is lost!

How green was my canal!

How green was my canal!

Usually duckweed is seen on the canals during the middle of the summer season. This year its been the first for a very very long time duckweed has extended right into the end of the summer season, its now September and this is one of the thickest carpets of the green stuff so far known!

It seems the reason is Canal & River Trust’s (CRT) equipment cant shift the stuff. Back in July CRT claimed they were waging war on the duckweed:

“The weed isn’t harmful to people, but it does spoil the beauty of the canal. Removing it is a painstaking job for the team because the pieces are tiny and they move as the boat makes its way through the water. It’s like trying to mow a moving lawn. With the weather like it is, no sooner have we cleaned a section, than a new lot has floated in, but we’re confident of getting rid of the majority before it gets any worse.” (CRT News 17 July 2015)

CRT News 17 July 2015

CRT News 17 July 2015

In past times specialist clearing machines (Taranchewer, Lee Mean Clean Machine) were able to shift the stuff quite quickly. This summer it seems CRT is relying upon a motley collection of outdated machinery to clear the stuff and its obvious they can’t manage.

Well the duckweed has got worse! Its not ugly, and it has some advantages – for me at least its great photography and for the ducks its extra food, and as this article on the Wapping waterways shows, its not entirely a bad thing – but it does have some disadvantages which CRT have listed on their website – and I’ll add it does look rather unsightly when mixed with floating rubbish.

One would have thought CRT would have got a grip on it by now but considering by the many photographs I have taken in the past few days clearly they havent.

Pre Cavalcade pics 1 May 2015

Today I ventured quickly around Little Venice to see what was happening…

Inside the new boat 'Brunel' at Paddington - looks like it'll be in use over the Cavalcade weekend.

Inside the new boat ‘Brunel’ at Paddington – looks like it’ll be in use over the Cavalcade weekend.

Update: No such luck this new barge stayed out of use! A white elephant for Cavalcade!

London Canal museum's Bantam tug arrives for the Cavalcade

London Canal museum’s Bantam tug arrives for the Cavalcade

Who are you looking at? Tug crew looks at goose who looks back. Both parties clearly browned off!

Who are you looking at? Tug crew looks at goose who looks back. Both parties clearly browned off!

Cavalcade steward tries to sort out the moorings for incoming narrowboats

Cavalcade steward tries to sort out the moorings for incoming narrowboats

Some boats not moved from visitor moorings yet! This is the notice on Kaszebe at about 18.00hrs on 1 May 2015.

Some boats not moved from visitor moorings yet! This is the notice on cruiser Kaszebe at about 18.00hrs on 1 May 2015, where Atticus should be moored.

Nice floral display & scarecrow doll on the roof of N/B Lola.

Nice floral display & scarecrow doll on the roof of N/B Lola.

Tug No5 Ann emerges from the tunnel en route from its St Pancras moorings to the weekend festival at Little Venice

Tug No5 Ann emerges from the tunnel en route from its St Pancras moorings to the weekend festival at Little Venice

 

Paddington Bears last days and removal

Here’s a video on You Tube about the final days and removal of the bears around Paddington station.

The Bears (four of them) have returned to Paddington & some overlook the canal once again… Vimeo

Some tweets below from @inpaddington on the Paddington trail auction and the Bears’ return to Paddington Basin.

Thanks to everyone who explored The #PaddingtonTrail & helped raise over £930k

Thanks to everyone who explored The #PaddingtonTrail & helped raise over £930k

Big thank you to @3DEyeLimited who are helping our #PaddingtonTrail bears settle back in at Paddington

Big thank you to @3DEyeLimited who are helping our #PaddingtonTrail bears settle back in at Paddington

Check out the latest arrival in @PaddingtonShop, three more arriving in #Paddington tomorrow

Check out the latest arrival in @PaddingtonShop, three more arriving in #Paddington tomorrow

Paddington Bears by the canal

The Paddington Bears by the canal in…. Paddington, London, W2! All of them!

There are quite a number of Paddington Bears around Paddington to commemorate the new Paddington Bear film starring Hugh Bonneville.

This features all of the Paddington Bears to be found in Paddington, W2, with a particular focus on those that are sited by Paddington Basin/Grand Union/Regent’s Canal.

Despite some of these bears not being by the canal, there is indeed a waterways theme that links all nine Paddington Bears in this part of London.

Mayor of Paddington

Mayor of Paddington

This is the Mayor of Paddington, right by the canal just outside Paddington Station, adjacent to Bishops Bridge Road, and designed by Costain Skanska/Paddington Partnership. (No 3.) Probably the most popular bear by decree of its location immediately outside the Hammersmith & City line entrance to Paddington Station and on the main walking route from Paddington to Little Venice. Typically the bears around here are sited some short distance from the canal (with the exception of Futuristic Robot Bear and Brick Bear.)

Futuristic Robot Bear

Futuristic Robot Bear

Futuristic Robot Bear at the eastern end of Paddington Basin – by Jonathan Ross. (No 6.) This bear is one of only two out of the six around the canals of Paddington & Little Venice that sit nearest the water’s edge, with Futuristic Robot Bear being just the one that is right by the edge of the towpath.

Original design for the Futuristic Robotic Bear

Original design for the Futuristic Robotic Bear

Jonathan Ross ‏@wossy tweeted this pic on Dec 27 2014: “Here’s the original ‘Future Paddington’ I designed for the NSPCC. They thought the cyber-eye was too scary!”

Bearing Up

Bearing Up

The striking fluorescent bear that is known as Bearing Up (No. 4) designed by Taylor Wimpey, again near the canal at Paddington Basin on the route that takes pedestrians across the canal from North Wharf Road to St Mary’s Hospital. This bear is one of my favourites.

Brick Bear

Brick Bear

By the Glass Bridge/The Point at Paddington Basin, just across the canal from Paddington Station, is Brick Bear, designed by Robin Partington & Partners. (No. 5) Brick Bear is sited very near the water’s edge, as shown below.

Brick Bear

Brick Bear

Love, Paddington x

Love, Paddington x

In Rembrandt Gardens, again by the canal, this time in iconic Little Venice, by Warwick Avenue, is the shiny Love, Paddington x, designed by Lulu Guinness. It’s No. 1 of the 50 bears around London. Number one might seem to many to be in an odd location, for this is Little Venice. Not really – author Michael Bond’s home is just a short walk away overlooking the canal.

Love, Paddington x can be said to be the ONLY bear sited adjacent to the Regent’s Canal. Its certainly very near that canal and its distinctive No.1 bridge at Warwick Avenue. One of the Little Venice based boats, Lady A, can also be seen in the picture below.

Love, Paddington x at Little Venice by Warwick Avenue/Regent's Canal

Love, Paddington x at Little Venice by Warwick Avenue/Regent’s Canal

Texting Paddington

Texting Paddington

In the amphitheatre known as Sheldon Square, deep below the level of the Grand Union Canal is colourful Texting Paddington, designed by Westminster Academy. (No. 2) Its not really near the canal although it is sited within the Paddington Central complex, opposite where British Waterways’ former Sheldon Square HQ was once located.

The three Bears of Paddington that are not sited adjacent to the canal are shown next. However, surprise – there is a strong waterways theme that links these three – and it’s something you wont find in any of the many sources describing these 50 Paddington Bears!

Paddington, the original bear

Paddington, the original bear

Paddington, the original bear  as depicted in the Paddington Bear books. Designed by Paddington Bear author Michael Bond. Picture taken in a totally empty Paddington Station on Xmas Day. (No. 7.) Its  a fair distance from the canal as one walks although the canal is actually very near this point.

In keeping with the waterways theme, this point was at one time where the Kilburn/Westbourne River once flowed (see notes below.) It’s valley was taken over for the construction of Paddington Station and the river diverted to the west.

A bit further away from Paddington station and indeed the canal’s environs are these three bears…

Paddingtonscape

Paddingtonscape

Paddingtonscape designed by Hannah Warren in Norfolk Square, quite near Paddington Station. (No. 8)

Ironically Norfolk Square WAS once part of the canal! Two reservoirs built by the Grand Junction Canal Company stood either side of Praed Street, W2, and these were for supply of water to this part of London. The southern reservoir was sited here, and after its closure Norfolk Square was built.

Paws Engage

Paws Engage

This one, Paws Engage, is the most distant of Paddington’s Paddington Bears. It’s just inside Kensington Gardens opposite Lancaster gate tube station, just a few minutes walk from Paddington Station. Designed by Canterbury of New Zealand. (No. 10 in series.)

Despite this bear apparently NOT being on any notable waterway, the illusion does not end there. This location was indeed where one of London’s more important waterways, the Kilburn, or Westbourne, River could be found. In fact the Long Water/The Serpentine are the remnant of that waterway.

The Kilburn/Westbourne (also known as the Bayswater Rivulet) soon met the fate of most of London’s rivers and it became known as the Ranelagh Sewer. Its waters still flow through Hyde Park, albeit on a different route from Lancaster Gate under Bayswater Road as far eastwards as roughly the point where the Titchbourne flowed into Hyde Park. It then traverses straight across the park to meet its original route at the eastern extremity of the Serpentine, and acts as an overflow for the Serpentine.

Keen spotters will note part of an original bridge, that once crossed the Kilburn/Westbourne River, still exists in the adjacent Italian Gardens. Its practically the only bridge left from the days when London had many tributaries off the Thames. Its an old structure and one that’s strangely never been listed or viewed as having any historic importance of any sort.

Bookbarge loses prime Paddington spot

London book barge

London book barge

In this week’s Ham & High newspaper (w/e 27 Nov 2014) the London book barge gets quite good coverage with regards to the controversial tendering process instigated by Canal & River Trust.

The winning tender went to a coffee shop conglomerate known by the name of British Land.

Is there a need for more coffee shops in the area?

It may not look as if there are enough coffee outlets in the immediate area, however besides those at Sheldon Square (including Pret a Manger, Starbucks, Subway, Grand Union Bar, Zizzi’s etc) there’s also Costa at St Mary’s round the corner and on weekdays there’s a mobile coffee shop by The Point in Paddington basin, PLUS many outlets on Praed Street, in Paddington station itself, and of course Tesco’s which does take away coffees too.

How does an extra coffee outlet provide the best deal for the canal? Clearly more rubbish in terms of discarded paper cups and food containers, more visual pollution! Expensive for guess who?

Below is the response from Canal & River Trust found on the Change petition page.

Canal & River Trust reply 26 Nov 2014

Canal & River Trust reply 26 Nov 2014