Harrow Road is one of London’s ‘ancient routes’, running from Paddington in a northwesterly direction towards the suburb of Harrow. The road remains an important arterial road and is designated as such by Transport for London. As such, the options for changing much about this thoroughfare are limited.
The section of the Harrow Road that runs through Queen’s Park is a typical high street shopping district. This originally extended from the junction with Elgin Avenue to the east and included all of Canal Terrace.
Since the demolition of the shops opposite Canal Terrace and their replacement with social housing in the 1970s, the western end of this shopping district has fallen into decline. The loss of the ‘double sided’ arrangement (with shops on both sides of the street) has reduced the footfall and led to the closure of most of the shops contained within Canal Terrace.
The Grand Union Canal was built between 1793 and 1805 (then known as the Grand Junction Canal) to improve the route from London to the Midlands, bypassing the upper reaches of the River Thames near Oxford and thus shortening the overall distance.
The transport of freight was the primary purpose for London’s canals up until the early 1960s. The cargo was primarily coal, timber and building materials, but also a significant amount of household goods. The increased speed and capacity offered by road transport soon led to the end of all commercial traffic on the canals. Along with this period of decline most of the warehouses that lined the canals fell into disrepair.
London’s canals have gradually been transformed into an important leisure amenity. The towpaths are well used by walkers and cyclists and a community of houseboaters has built up along the canals, with concentrations in areas like Little Venice. The warehouses have been reinvented in places like Camden Market and most recently as part of the large scale King’s Cross redevelopment. The construction of new housing along the edge of the canal is part of the growing trend of desirability of waterside living.
The canal and towpath fall under the jurisdiction of the Canal & River Trust. The mooring of boats and any works that fall within this zone fall within the authority of this organisation.