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BW103

Regent's Canal and Dock Company

Description

Records of the Regent's Canal and Dock Company: administrative, financial and legal records 1900-1961, Limehouse Dock 1922-1927, plans of the canal 1811-1929, records relating to the Hertford Union Canal early 20th century, papers concerning amalgamation with the Grand Junction Canal 1925-1929, Acts and Byelaws kept by the Regent's Canal and Dock Company for information 1812-1923.

Date

1811-1961

Reference code

BW103

Access Status

These records are available immediately for research

Administrative /‚Äč Biographical history

Despite its predecessors' authorisation to construct new railway lines dating back to the 1880s, none had been built. The Regent's Canal and Dock Company did not break this trend when it came into existence in 1900. Compared to its contemporaries, traffic on the canal was healthy and the company was still making a profit. It had not escaped the railway competition unscathed, however, as much of its Midland-bound traffic had long-since gone. The tonnages carried on the canal and that passed through the docks were predominantly intended for local destinations. When asked to give evidence for the Royal Commission, the Regent's was one of a handful of companies willing to increase their facilities' capacity at their own expense, providing their neighbours also adhered to the standard. Horses were still used for eighty per cent of towing on the canal that was done by the company. The many locks meant that this was seen as the most economical method, although a steam tug, the replacement for the one that sank, was used in the 960-yard Islington Tunnel. Barely into the first decade of the twentieth century, the Regent's Canal and Dock Company was already considering electrical traction for their vessels by building a road above their canal that would have the cables attached to it. The Port of London Authority was set up in 1908 and took over many of the city's docks. The Regent's Canal and Dock Company attempted to get themselves included in the list to be taken over, but were rejected. World War I was a difficult time for all the canal companies, but perhaps especially arduous for those in London. Once the war was over, the company embarked upon building Medland and Bergen quays and warehouses. These works were finished by 1922. The old ship entrance to the basin had been partially filled in by 1897 and was completely so by 1922. Profits rose slowly, but the company's finances did not come close to recovering to pre-war levels until the mid-1920s. At this time, the Regent's Canal and Dock Company became involved in the creation of the Grand Union Canal Company. This essentially was the amalgamation of smaller canal companies to form a larger one that was better able to withstand competition. The Regent's Canal and Dock Company and its chairman, W H Curtis, became crucial as once the negotiations were completed, it was the Regent's Canal and Dock Company that purchased three of the other canal companies involved, in 1927. Four members of the Regent's Canal and Dock Company board of directors were appointed to that of the Grand Union. The Regent's Canal and Dock Company ceased to exist as an independent body from January 1929. For further information on the Regent's Canal see Edward Paget-Tomlinson's 'The Illustrated History of Canals & River Navigations' and Charles Hadfield's 'The Canals of the East Midlands'.

System of arrangement

It has not been possible to ascertain the complete original structure of record-keeping from the records held for this company. The fonds has been arranged into series by subject, which is how some of the records were originally kept. The company's administrative, financial and legal records have been placed first, followed by records concerning Limehouse Dock. These are followed by plans of the canal. These progress through records relating to the Hertford Union Canal. Papers concerning amalgamation with the Grand Junction Canal follow this. At the end of the collection are Acts and Byelaws kept by the Regent's Canal and Dock Company for information. The records within each series have generally been arranged chronologically while keeping records relating to each other together. This means that some records may fall slightly out of the chronological sequence. The papers concerning amalgamation with the Grand Junction Canal have been split into three subseries - administrative and financial papers, legal papers and L Bygrave's papers concerning the amalgamation. The records within these subseries have generally been arranged chronologically while keeping records relating to each other together. This means that some records may fall slightly out of the chronological sequence.

Associated material

[See also: BW66 for records of the Hertford Union Canal during other periods of ownership, BW58, 100, 105 and 108 for records of the Regent's Canal during other periods of ownership]

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