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Navigating the Canals of London

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As the beating heart of the Industrial Revolution, London was served by a network of canals that allowed the carriage of materials and finished products around the city and beyond to the rest of the UK and the world beyond.

As a result, London continues to have a large number of canals and waterways snaking around the city that are now primarily used for pleasure rather than industrial purposes. The waterways in London are well-used and give a different perspective on the city than you will get from the busy streets around the canals.

The Grand Union

The best known canal in the UK and the biggest in London, the Grand Union canal comes into the city from the north from its opposite terminus in Birmingham. Although parts of the canal were in existence long before the turn of the 20th century, the former Regents Canal was amalgamated with a number of other canals in the British canal network to form the Grand Union as it stands today.

wenlock basin islington

Wenlock Basin in Islington, part of the Regents Canal

Regents Canal continues to be the best used of the London canals. Running through Camden and Kentish Town, a number of the warehouses and industrial units that were previously served by the canal have now been turned into housing and entertainment areas that draw people in from all over the city. At the time when the canals’ primary use was conveying industrial products from manufacturers to distributors, living by the canal would have been an unpleasant and messy business. Today, however, canal-front properties are very much sought-after and the areas around Camden and Islington have been significantly gentrified in recent years through clean-up and regeneration.

The Grand Surrey Canal

South of the Thames is also well-served with canals through the mainline and branches of the Grand Surrey Canal. The canal fell into disrepair following the move of canal traffic to the railways to transport products to ports in Portsmouth through the 19th century.

swing bridge norway cut

The swing bridge at Norway Cut allows taller vessels to pass

The area around what is now known as the “Surrey Canal Triangle” has recently been granted in the will see the building of over 2,000 new homes along with sporting and leisure facilities in the wake of the 2012 London Olympics. The plans propose changing the areas around Deptford and South Bermondsey beyond recognition and will bring a new lease of life to the canal in its post-industrial life.

The former City Canal

The city canal was a very short and short-lived canal that provided passage across the Isle of Dogs in London’s Docklands. Linking the two reaches of the River Thames, the canal allowed goods to be transported between docks for onward transport out of the city.

The canal, now no longer in operation, forms part of South Dock and no longer allows access across the dock. The former lock gate has been reconstructed in memory of the service that ran through the dock, but where the canal once ran is now plays host to military vessels visiting London as it is the furthest point upstream where they can be turned around for the return voyage.


In addition to the more well-known waterways around London, there are several canals and cuts that are less popular but no less worthy of a visit. The story of London’s industrial heritage is told through the canals that cross-cut the city to take goods from one place to another and are now forming part of the city’s future as redevelopment brings a new lease of life to former industrial areas and provides a place for families and visitors to get away from the heat of the streets.

Image Credits: Wikipedia 1 and 2

Head out on the Catwalk at London Fashion Week

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The second week in September sees haute couture hit the London streets on London Fashion Week. Bringing together top designers, emerging new talent and buyers for some of the most cutting edge high-street brands, what goes on the catwalk in London is likely to hit the shops a few weeks later.

For those who follow or set the trends in fashion, London Fashion Week is an absolute must. Held twice a year, the Spring Summer collections showcased in September are likely to influence what we will all be wearing come next year’s warmer weather.

This September’s Fashion Week is the last before the event officially turns 30. Although the event may be now entering middle age, it’s unlikely that the fashions that are presented will become any less youthful and cutting edge. Always evolving, last year saw the first menswear collections and this year is expected to bring yet more innovations.

Virtual fashion

At the leading edge of technology, London Fashion Week was the first of the four big fashion events in the world to offer fashion aficionados the opportunity to follow proceedings digitally. All the designers are given the chance to broadcast their collections on the London Fashion Week’s official video stream to reach those who are unable to make their shows.

With the growth of social media, there is an increasing buzz online around the event in the run-up to the week itself. Using the London Fashion Week website and following along on Twitter and Facebook, designers are now able to gauge reactions to their collections much more broadly than they would previously have been able to access.

Venue for events

The vast majority of the timetabled events for London Fashion Week take place at the grand and imposing Somerset House on The Strand in Central London. The former mansion house plays host to many of the catwalk shows, and with a large marquee erected in the grounds The Strand becomes the hub of most of the activity surrounding London Fashion Week.

london somerset house

London’s Somerset House – a dramatic backdrop for London Fashion Week

As a home for the arts, Somerset House lends a real air of gravitas to the proceedings of London Fashion Week. In terms of profile, the recognition of fashion and design as a discipline of art is one area where London has embraced textiles and fashion design as part of the fine artistic establishment.

Spring Summer 2014

The collections shown in London from the 13-17 September will be the basis of those offered in Spring Summer 2014. The programme of events is due to be released shortly and will be keenly followed by fashionistas, the fashion press and high street brands seeking inspiration for their own collections in the coming seasons.

fashion week accessories clothing

Fashion Week focuses on accessories as well as clothing

The collections will feature a whole range of items ranging from ready to wear clothing through to jewellery, shoes, bags and other accessories. As we look towards the summer months next year, we can expect to see trends emerging for swimwear too, as designers bring the looks that will grace the beaches in summer 2014.

Well-known names such as Burberry, John Rocha and Manolo Blahnik will rub shoulders with less well-known and up-and-coming designers in the catwalk shows throughout the course of the week. Bringing fresh ideas in their collections, new and emerging designers help to keep the industry thriving and pushing the boundaries of style and creativity.


London Fashion Week will bring some extremely well-known names in the world of international couture to the city to celebrate the launch of Spring Summer collections for next year. As ever, the world’s fashion press will be in attendance to pick up tips on what we will all be sporting in Spring and Summer of next year.

Image Credits: Wikipedia 1 and 2

1-2-3-4 Shoreditch Music Festival

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September sees some of the hippest new bands from the UK and across the globe take to the stages of the sixth annual 1-2-3-4 Festival in Shoreditch Park. Branded as an experience for “stylish bands, stylish fans and stylish sounds,” the festival promises a wide range of music the like of which you are unlikely to hear anywhere else.

Bringing together dozens of new bands, never-before-heard combinations of members from the well-beloved groups of the coolest kind and a few one-offs that will never be heard from again, the festival sees independent bands and free spirits congregating on the small but perfectly formed former blitz site in fashionable East London.

The Location

Set in Shoreditch Park, the festival has an intimate feel. One of the smaller open public spaces in London, the park covers an area of former terraced houses that were destroyed by the German bombings of London during World War II.

shoreditch park

Shoreditch Park

The surrounding area is achingly cool, with music shops, bars and clothing stores that ooze cutting edge chic and are invariably full of beautiful people going about the business of being hip. The festival is something of a sentinel event in the hipster calendar and sees Shoreditch descended upon by bands and their fans to enjoy the music and the atmosphere of the area.

The Festival

The festival itself is an eclectic mix of artists spanning three stages in the small space afforded by Shoreditch Park. The plethora of new and previously unheard-of acts jostle for space on the stages with the better-known likes of Lovefoxxx and Patrick Wolf who have wooed the crowds and kept those seeking better known names interested through the unknowns.

buzzcocks 2012 festival

You’ll find a few big names, such as the Buzzcocks at 2012’s festival

In addition to the festival itself, Shoreditch gives itself over to festival fever for the duration of 1-2-3-4 and many of the well-known bars and pubs have given themselves over to supplying after-party venues for festival-goers and bands looking for somewhere to continue the fun.

If you’re looking for pop princesses and kings of the mainstream, you’re unlikely to find them at this festival. Arguably the least commercial festival in a swelling tide of corporate-sponsored music events, 1-2-3-4 is quirky and off-the-wall. Don’t let the fact that you’re unlikely to have heard of many – if indeed any – of the acts billed put you off. If you want high-profile, there are plenty of other events that will cater for your tastes in radio-friendly hits. 1-2-3-4 is more the place to go to see and be seen, and hear some new sounds that could enchant you.

The after-show

But what comes after the show, you may ask yourself. The after-show, of course! Once the festival has finished, several venues in and around Shoreditch are offering post-festival parties for bands, fans and revellers to continue the festivities long after the licence for the festival itself has run out.

Beach Blanket Babylon are hosting an after-show Pussy Riot benefit night dedicated to freeing the Russian feminist punks incarcerated after their protest at a Moscow cathedral. Catch, Powerlunches and Translate, all on Kingsland Road, are offering the chance to see a number of the bands from the festival take on DJ sets for late-night partying while Hysteria and The Old Blue Last on Great Eastern Street have band sets and DJ spots from performers featuring on the festival bill.


As one of the smallest and least commercial festivals in London, 1234 Festival has a cult following and is likely to grow more with this year’s offering. The festival itself, followed by its many after-show parties, guarantee a great day and a long night with some of the coolest emerging and up-and-coming bands all in one place.

Image Credits: Wikipedia and Jon Hatchman

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