Book reviews — August 2021
'The East End Canal Tales', by Carolyn Clark
146 pages. Price ₤9.95. Buy from London Canal Museum bookshop (actual and on-line) or the author's website: shoreditchtales.com
One of the anniversaries that was lost in last year's pandemic lockdowns was the 200th anniversary of the opening of the Regent's Canal. The majority of events to celebrate the occasion were cancelled including the formal launch of this book. Knowing of the publication coming out I had asked Carolyn to speak at what was planned to be GLIAS's 50th anniversary SERIAC conference but that had to go too. So here is a somewhat delayed review.
Although the canal runs for 8.6 miles from near Paddington Basin to the Limehouse Basin Carolyn's book concentrates on the canal's section from near Islington to the Thames, and focuses on the people who worked on the canal and the industries that lined the banks and basins. She has tracked down many canal folks and workers to tell their stories. The largest section details the many industries that were alongside the canal. These ranged from the obvious such as gasworks, breweries and furniture makers to unusual trades such as ice makers and confectionery manufacturers. Each section is copiously illustrated with both often unpublished photographs and Victorian line illustrations, often from trade literature. Tales of life by the canal I found fascinating but not sure that I would like to have gone swimming in the canal in the 1950s! This is a comprehensive study but it is not an academic tome — it is well written and an easy read. David Perrett
© GLIAS, 2021