London’s waterways are going through a revival, after the decline, coming to a head in the winter of 1963, where coal gas was replaced with piped North Sea gas, became the final straw and for barges transporting heavy loads up and down the country. Luckily for us now, it was difficult and costly for the government of the day, to close the canals. Thanks to enthusiastic amateurs, who maintained the waterways and the pleasure of boating.
But what massive economic change has caused this sudden recent revival in East London’s canals? Simple, the cost of housing is at an all time high. Rents now require two salaries to occupy a small one-bedroom apartment, mortgages are unobtainable, as banks no longer want the risk of loans and transport is an expensive crush with over-crowding. Taking these points into account – doesn’t the tranquility of the waterside, suddenly have a lot more appeal?
Hundreds of young people are buying abandoned, decrepit barges, to make as their homes and motor across locks to the nearest mooring bank, to get to their place of work.
The book is a photographic narrative; boater’s stories of these changing times of east London’s canals, with stories from the canallers and moving images of the tough and challenging life young people face.
‘Little London Adventures’ series
1. Cockney Curiosities
2. SURREPTITIOUS CITY (forthcoming)
Clare Newton says…
Since 2004 I have been cycling up and down East London Canals, in search of heritage to photograph and rediscover its story left in its remnants and historic richness.