Grand Union Canal Paddington Arm
The Construction of the Paddington Arm.
Land was being purchased for this extension of the Grand Union in 1795, and although the inevitable problems arose with intransigent landowners and precise location of the route, a start had been
made. In November 1797 it was reported:
'On the Paddington Canal about a mile and a quarter is finished and full of water upon which are six floats constantly employed on conveying earth from Hoddesdon Hill (Horsenden Hill) to the valley of the River Brent. Bricks are made to build the aqueduct over the Brent and also for all the bridges that will be necessary to be built next Summer.'
In March 1800, men were moved from completing the Paddington Basin to the embankment across the Brent Valley. Everything else was running to plan except this embankment and the deep cutting through the hill to the south of it. [Which hill would that be?] In April 1800 it was reported that 'if 220 men can be kept on those parts of the works I can see nothing to prevent the canal from being open to Paddington at Christmas'.
Other problems occurred with constructing a bridge and precise building lines, but on 10 July 1801 the canal was opened 'amidst much cannon fire'. Trade flourished with the Paddington Basin area seeing much freight activity. In addition the Company set up a packet boat service from Paddington to Uxbridge. The Paddington Packet Boat became quite famous in its time, not least because of the distinctive yellow and blue uniforms worn by the crew.
Alperton featured on the route with The Pleasure Boat public house.
Afterthoughts: so the stretch between Horsenden Hill and the Brent Valley through Alperton may have been the first stretch constructed, and certainly the first to be used.
The 'navvies' (short for Navigation Canal diggers) would have come across the brickearth whilst cutting the canal. Was this the start of brick building in Alperton which continued for another 100 years?