Back in 1924 a 13 minute film was made following a canal boat as it travelled across London from east to west. Starting in Limehouse Basin it carried 85 tons of coal (86 tonnes metric) to Paddington Basin all by horse power. It’s a fascinating glimpse of the canal back then but also of London at street level above the canal. You get to see Mile End, Whitechapel and Camden at Street level. Regents Park and the zoo are already there with a lot of interested punters. At Islington tunnel the boat is towed through by a steam powered tug. At the shorter tunnel under Marylebone Road into Little Venice, the crew have to push through using a pole against the roof of the lock. Other things we noticed? No bollards at any of the locks and the tow line is slack most of the time while Dobbin is pulling her.  After you’ve watched the original film watch this version which Chris (Protea co-owner) has just found. It has been AI enhanced and put into colour. But doesn’t have the commentary.











Then, in early June 2021 Molly and Tom of Arts Republic, borrowed Protea (Cath and Chris’s canal boat) to recreate the journey to show the difference between the canal then and now. Douglas of z360 did the camera work.

And here is the result! This time lapse video takes 42 minutes to show Protea cruising through London from Paddington to Limehouse Basin.  Enjoy!

PS Please note, it is edited. So despite it looking to the contrary, they didn’t leave every single lock open with the paddles left up!

Time lapse videos on the London canals – Cath Hassell, UK