Bradshaw’s Hand Book to London, Day 7, Paddington (no.46)

Mr Bradshaw and I picked up the tour in Paddington, at the junction of the Edgware Road with Blomfield Road where I walked along the Regent’s Canal, in the area known as Little Venice.

The Regent's Canal alongside Blomfield Road
The Regent’s Canal alongside Blomfield Road

Little Venice
Little Venice

The Regent’s Canal was built for trade – to join the Limehouse Basin (originally known as the Regent’s Canal Dock) on the Thames with the Grand Junction Canal and the Grand Union Canal to the Midlands. The Canal was built between 1816-20 and named after the Prince Regent because John Nash was one of the Directors, and a friend of the Prince.

The Regent's Canal entry to the Basin
The Regent’s Canal entry to the Basin which joins the Grand Junction Canal

According to the London Encyclopaedia, Paddington ‘..did not really become part of London until the 19C when it expanded on a dramatic scale…’. Real change began in 1795, says the London Enclopaedia, when the Bishop of London’s Trustees leased land to the Grand Junction Canal Company so that the canal could be extended from Brentford to Paddington. The new section of the Grand Junction Canal opened in 1801 and was the main canal linking London with the rest of the country. Trade thrived: ‘..in 1810 the canal carried 343,560 tons of goods through London..’.

The opening of the Grand Junction Canal, 1801
The opening of the Grand Junction Canal, 1801
Junction of the Regent's Canal at Paddington
Junction of the Regent’s Canal at Paddington
A similar view to the above, today
A similar view to the above, today
The basin where the Regent's Canal joins the Paddington spur of the Grand Union Canal
Houses overlooking the basin where the Regent’s Canal joins the Paddington spur of the Grand Union Canal

There was also a busy passenger board service between Paddington and Uxbridge, the Paddington Packet Boat CompanyThere were apparently five trips each week, all fully booked.

The Paddington Packet Boat
The Paddington Packet Boat

A spur of the canal leads from the Junction Basin down to the Paddington Basin and along this stretch old and new are juxtaposed.

Towards the Paddington Basin
The M40 crossing the canal – towards the Paddington Basin
Warehouses along the canal, towards Paddington Basin
Warehouses along the canal, towards Paddington Basin
Regeneration of Paddington Basin
Regeneration of Paddington Basin
In Paddington Basin
In Paddington Basin

Paddington was, but a few years back, a rural village, with a few old houses on each side of the Edgeware Road, and some rustic taverns of picturesque appearance, screened by high elms, with long troughs for horses, and a straggling sign-posts..’, says Mr Bradshaw.

Paddington in 1815
Paddington in 1815

Paddington Green is the oldest part of the area. The Manor House was on the north until 1824 but of the big Georgian houses around the Green only two remain – on the east. (British Library image.)

Paddington Green with the Manor House, 1783
Paddington Green with the Manor House, 1783
Houses on the east side of Paddington Green
Houses on the east side of Paddington Green

‘The diagonal path led to the church, then a little Gothic building overspread with ivy… It was pulled down in 1791 and the present one erected in its stead..’.

Paddington Church, 1750, and 1805
Paddington Church, 1750, and 1805
Paddington Green today
Paddington Green today
St Mary on Paddington Green
St Mary on Paddington Green
St Mary on Paddington Green
St Mary on Paddington Green

It is not a pretty site anymore: a damaged statue of Mrs Siddons overlooks busy lanes of traffic and new developments in the Paddington Basin. The garden and graveyard don’t feel like consecrated ground anymore.

Mrs Siddons looking over traffic to Paddington Basin
Mrs Siddons looking over traffic to Paddington Basin
Sarah Siddons by Thomas GAinsborough
Sarah Siddons by Thomas Gainsborough
Gravestones lined up in the graveyard of St Mary on Paddington Green
Gravestones lined up in the graveyard of St Mary on Paddington Green

And yet, if you try, there is still a hint of the past.

In the graveyard of St Mary on Paddington Green
In the graveyard of St Mary on Paddington Green

Mr Bradshaw tells me ‘..There are four new churches recently built in the parish – St James’s, St John’s, Holy Trinity, and All Souls‘, and it is now one of the busiest and most thickly [populated of the London suburbs..’. St James the Less is the parish church of Paddington, and was consecrated on 1 May 1843. The church was designed by John Goldicott and George Gutch. The church could seat c.800 but by the 1880s was this was not big enough for the population and the church was enlarged by G E Street. (In 1884 Constance Lloyd and Oscar Wilde were married in the church.)

St James the Less, Paddington
St James the Less, Paddington
The interior of St James the Less, Paddington
The interior of St James the Less, Paddington
St James the Less, Paddington
St James the Less, Paddington

In the early 1800s new housing estates included a church. St John’s Church was built in association with the Connaught Square Estate, commissioned by the Commissioners for New Churches, designed by Charles Fowler, and consecrated in 1832. The church was also known as the ‘Connaught Chapel’ and was built to seat 1,500 people – what a change from today’s congregations!

St John's Church, Paddington
St John’s Church, Paddington

Holy Trinity Church in Bishops Bridge Road was completed in 1846 and demolished in 1984, when it was no longer needed. The remarkable photograph below was by Henry William Fox Talbot, one of the pioneers of photography, in 1845. It was apparently a very grand church, with a splendid organ.

Holy Trinity Church, Bishops Bridge Road; photograph b y William Fox Talbot
Holy Trinity Church, Bishops Bridge Road; photograph by William Henry Fox Talbot, 1845

Paddington Station is the London terminal of the Great Western Railway which was engineered by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, with the terminal dating from 1854. 

Paddington Station in Victorian times
Paddington Station in Victorian times
Interior of Paddington Station
Interior of Paddington Station
Paddington Station exterior
Paddington Station exterior
Closeup of the facade of Paddington Station, with GWR initials
Closeup of the facade of Paddington Station, with GWR initials

Much of this area presents rather a ‘seedy’ image, but again it is possible to see what the intentions were, elegant town living.

Sussex Gardens
Sussex Gardens
Talbot Square
Talbot Square

You may be interested in
Images from the Friends of the Regents Canal
Photographs of Rembrandt Gardens in the summer
Paddington and its transport systems

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6 comments

  1. As an American who’s wanted to visit London since I was a little girl, I thank you for your beautiful blog posts! I especially appreciate your explanations & tidbits of history. This may be the closest I ever get to the city that’s intrigued me since childhood.. WELL DONE!! Keep up the great work!

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    • How very kind!London is fascinating, but it also depends on what you want to see, and find. I am so pleased that you have enjoyed the posts; sadly I am nearly at the end of the 8-day tour, but the ‘environs’ remain to be explored – keep in touch!

      Like

  2. Your picture of ‘Little Venice’ make it look very attractive… amazing considering it’s indistrial origins.
    When at Paddington I am always just passing through, so it’s interesting to see some of the detail and history.

    Like

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