In the relatively short time I’ve lived in Hackney myself, I’ve seen a radical shift in the use of the canals in the area. For one, more and more people are living on them, with the costs of a barge and berthing being preferable to living in a minute flat with sky-high rent attached.
The Regent’s and Hertford Union Canals were of course mainly used for trade and transport, with the timber trade featuring heavily. Carolyn Clark has just produced a wonderful booklet, which you can download here, in the form of a quiz.
East End Canal Heritage Quiz
There is some great information there, my favourite being a quote about Vic Veneers which reads:
‘Places like Vic Veneers…just inside Ducketts, you could actually look under the wharf, it was built above the water and they used to take the veneer timber into soak, and when they were nice and wet, soft as anything, they put them to the knife….they’d lift it out, put it on the shaver which was like a flaming great pencil sharpener and spin it up. You’d get a great long strip of veneer like flipping toilet paper, it might be 50-60 foot in length and 10 foot wide.’