Walking the Route of the Long Lost Croydon Canal
Since writing the book London's Lost Rivers I have been on foot returning to the routes of these rivers and canals. The route of the Croydon Canal is particularly interesting and I shall be organising some guided walking tours of a large chunk of the route of the Croydon Canal in late Spring 2017 - the 'Croydon Canal Alldayer'
The Croydon Canal opened at the same time as the Grand Surrey Canal in 1809 - a 21 gun salute met the first barge as it entered the canal basin at West Croydon, cheering crowds had gathered and a band played the National Anthem. The canal enabled lime, timber, chalk and agricultural produce to be sent to London in exchange for coal being handled to Croydon, then an ancient market town. Although the canal was only just over 9 miles long it had 28 locks between New Cross and Honor Oak (a stretch of just over 2 miles), which beset the canal with problems, as these locks were costly to maintain, and caused queues & congestion for the barges waiting to negotiate them. The proprietors raised money to build the canal by selling shares at £100 each but by 1830 £1 could buy 10 shares!
The canal was a financial failure and closed in 1836 and the railway line from London Bridge to Croydon was built, generally following the route of the canal but the railway line used cuttings and embankments to avoid the twists and turns of the canal. The railway opened in June 1839, and is the second oldest passenger line in London. West Croydon Station stands on the site of the Croydon Canal Basin. Lengths of canal unsuitable for the railway survived a little longer and carried on trading & used for pleasure boating though these were soon lost due to the rapid residential development as London expanded into the the suburbs.
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