Campaigner Ian Shacklock with councillor Sian Berry, who wants to preserve the basin’s working heritage
Published: 16 July, 2015
By DAN CARRIER
A HISTORIC 150-year-old canal boat basin in the heart of Camden Lock must not be “Disneyfied” by developers but should be returned to its original purpose, conservationists say.
Dead Dogs Basin – a historic quayside dock beneath the Victorian Interchange building – has been earmarked for restoration and cleaning, with a new restaurant planned.
It gets its grim nickname because the basin has traditionally been associated with drowned animals and pets.
As the New Journal revealed last week, owner Market Tech Holdings is preparing to put a £30m plan for Camden Lock before the Town Hall. It includes a 500-capacity live music venue, new market areas, workshops and offices.
The plans seek to open up the basin, which has a quay beneath the Interchange warehouse building, which boasts brick-vaulted ceilings. The Friends of Regent’s Canal say that, with canal use booming, the dock should once again be used for cargo deliveries and boat maintenance.
Friends chairman Ian Shacklock said: “The reason no one uses it today is because no one knows it is there. It has been kept a deep secret and been allowed to fall into disrepair so developers can use it to turn a quick profit.”
With canal boats becoming more and more popular due to London’s soaring house prices, the basin is not just a quaint heritage asset but an important part of the canal infrastructure, he said.
Mr Shacklock added: “We have lost so much along the canal, right through London. People are having to travel further and further for spaces like this. It is like losing the garage at the bottom of your road where you’d get your MOT done.”
He added that developers could restore the basin and give diners at a planned restaurant something to look at.
“There are so many other options for this basin instead of turning it into a freak show,” he said. “There is no reason it should be a museum piece. A balance could be struck. It could be a nice feature. Instead of looking at a pool of stagnant water, it could be used by boat owners for maintenance and painting. It would make a far more interesting spectacle.”
Highgate ward Green councillor Sian Berry said: “Any development needs to preserve the fabric of the basin and put into use a scheme that will benefit canal users, respect its working heritage and not just be an element of a Disneyfied theme park for day trippers coming see the famous Lock market.”
A spokesman for Market Tech said: “We feel that our proposals respect the heritage of the canal and opening up Dead Dog Basin once more to boats is not something we have ruled out. We intend to look at the possibility of re-opening many of the underground structures beneath Camden Lock Market and we will explore and consult upon Dead Dog Basin as part of this in due course.”