This is a small park next to the Regents Canal in Barnsbury, that was created as a result of changes to the rules about walking along the canal.
The pocket park itself was created during the construction of the housing mews next to the canal in 1981 replacing an old warehouse building next to the canal and a small row of houses facing the main road.
The pocket park sits right where three terraced houses used to be and was included as a public park as a condition of the planning approval for the rest of the Thornhill Bridge Wharf housing estate.
Giving access to the canal where none had been before may not seem a particularly unusual event these days, but back in 1981, it was fairly radical. Up to 1978, there were tight restrictions on who could use the canal, and the British Waterways Board required permits if anyone wanted to walk along the path. This was still considered to be an industrial transport service, and allowing the public in was considered unsafe.
With the decline of cargo on the canals, there was pressure to open up the towpaths for the general public to use, and both the GLC and the local councils worked to improve the canal paths for pedestrians.
So this park was created, one of a series known as the Canal Way Parks to open up access from the streets to the canal below.
Today it’s mainly a short path with steps down to the canal, with a large section of plating to one side, and some now seemingly missing park benches on a middle landing. Also missing seemingly are the railings next to the plating, as the uprights are still there, but the metal horizontal bars are missing.
A series of mosaics of fishes and insects can be seen behind the plantings, which were designed and created with Year 4 and 5 Pupils at Copenhagen Primary School, in collaboration with artist Monica Shanta Brown and installed in 2006. They were part-funded by the Rail Link Countryside Initiative, an independent charity set up with £2 million of funding by the Chanel Tunnel rail link to support local area improvements along the HS1 railway.
It’s a small park that’s probably more used simply to get between road and canal than to linger, especially now that the benches are missing.
That it exists at all though, is thanks to work in the late 1970s to open the canals to the public to enjoy.