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Regent’s Canal: the catalyst for today’s Hoxton

The Regent’s Canal, which runs through Hoxton, is one of London’s best-kept secrets widely described as a peaceful haven to escape the hustle and bustle of the capital’s busy streets. 

The area of Hoxton, where a section of the Regent’s Canal calls home,  has experienced vast change over the years, an area that was formerly known as a working-class district in north Shoreditch is now a creative, fashionable hub brimming with writers, designers and musicians.

The changing tide of Hoxton reflects on the Regent’s Canal; from the canal’s humble beginnings in 1812 when initial plans for the canal were accepted, to 1820 when the canal was bustling with waterborne traffic with boats carrying a variety of goods. Today, the canal provides escapism for Londoners and tourists alike, as well as a bustling social scene thanks to the variety of independent bars and restaurants scattered along the banks.

Carolyn Clark, local historian and author of The Shoreditch Tales explains: “The canal became the superhighway of its day for transporting goods to and from the area. At the start, the canal brought coal for the gasworks and later power stations, including the Gainsborough Studios by Shoreditch Park. 

“It transported building materials such as timber, bricks, lime, cement and metal to yards and warehouses alongside the canal.  In turn, these materials were used to build alongside the factories, warehouses and housing on what were green fields. The ready source of timber made Shoreditch, including Hoxton, the leading furniture and cabinet making area in London for almost 100 years from the middle of the 1800s.

“In recognition of the area being the centre for furniture production, the London County Council created the Technical Institute in Pitfield Street in 1893, offering courses in every branch of furniture and upholstery manufacture and design – a first of its kind in London.”

The furniture trade wasn’t the only trade to benefit from the canal; printing boomed in the area as reams of paper could be shipped by boat to other parts of London and beyond. A company that benefitted from the canal was Mullord Brothers who produced paper products including lace paper greeting cards, dish papers, playing cards as well as other gifts and novelties. It’s been said that one of the initiation rituals for new apprentices at Mullord Brothers, to welcome them to the print works trade, was to throw the new recruits into the Regent’s Canal.

The paper manufacturing company inhabited a warehouse on Penn Street in Hoxton from the 1860’s for at least 60 years and now this site has become home to Hoxton Press, the second development from London property developer’s Anthology. In keeping with this history Anthology has named the development, Hoxton Press and the two towers ‘Mono’ and ‘Duo’, both printmaking techniques.

Once complete, Hoxton Press will provide the area with 198 new homes, supporting the need for housing in the ever-popular Zone 1/2 region of London. A community café will also sit at ground level in a bid to preserve the community spirit of Hoxton.

Hoxton has a reputation as an area of creativity, beginning in the 1800’s with the craftsmen of the furniture trade bolstered by Regent’s Canal, to the young innovators and entrepreneurs of today. To preserve the history of the area, Anthology will work closely with Hackney Council to build homes that provide the community with a location for creativity to flourish. 

David Newey, Project Director for Anthology Hoxton Press commented: “

“The Regent’s Canal that sparked such a vibrant history and future for Hoxton sits as an excellent spot to socialise and has been a factor in the community developing its own identity –bustling with markets, independent shops and design studios. The borough as a whole has developed alongside the canal over recent years and now plays host to some impressive start-ups, as well as innovative arts and entertainments businesses. These are just some of the unique attributes that have really enabled the area to become such a desirable location.”

For more details on the homes being created at Hoxton Press, visit the Anthology London website: anthology.london or call 020 3308 9813. You can follow updates from Hoxton Press on Twitter at @AnthologyHoxton and find Anthology on Facebook, Twitter (@AnthologyLondon) and Instagram (@AnthologyLondon).

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