Tucked away in North West London, where the Grand Union Canal meets the Regent’s Canal, there’s a pretty place known affectionately as Little Venice. Located just north of Paddington Station, the area is mostly made up of W2 and W9 postcodes. Getting to Little Venice is easy as Warwick Avenue tube station is right in the middle. This underground station famously features in a song by Duffy that was released in 2008.
The streets of Little Venice are lined with trees and have small, secret gardens. The buildings are a mixture of Victorian and Edwardian period structures and some imposing stuccoed mansions. Along the river there are colourful house boats adorned with potted plants. The area is like an oasis in London and it attracts a diverse population of residents.
Historically, this area wasn’t as attractive as it now appears. Before the canal was made in 1801, Paddington was just a little village on the outskirts of London. Houses began to spring up along the new waterways. The Church Commissioners owned many of them, but it was scruffy and dirty. As the canals became more important roads were laid and some more wealthier people moved in.
After the Second World War, which saw so much destruction in London, this district was updated and slowly became the popular place it is now. Some of the splendid Italianate houses that used to be there have been lost, along with a number of Georgian terraces. The area behind Browning’s Pool, which is a very wide section of the canal, has changed meaning there is less water there now. This goes unnoticed by most people, though, as there is still a lovely feeling of open space.
Tourism doesn’t play a big part in Little Venice, but there are plenty of reasons for visitors to spend time here. The canals have long walkways beside them and these are popular with families, couples and dog walkers. There are swans, ducks and geese to watch and feed along the way. It’s possible to walk to Regent’s Park and London Zoo if you follow the tow path. There is a regular boat service which can be caught here too.
Along the water are some small caf’es and bars which are lovely places to spend an evening. The Waterside Caf’e and the Warwick Castle Pub are two of the best-known spots to go to. There is also the Canal Caf’e Theatre which is a small venue specialising in comedy. The children also have a Puppet Theatre barge.
Shopping in Little Venice is limited to small, boutique-style shops. There aren’t many high-street brands to be found just here. With Paddington close by, and the centre of London only two miles away, every kind of shop ever needed is available not too far away.
The canals are the dominant feature of Little Venice and the water gives this part of London its individual look and feel. It is a beautiful part of the city, loved by its residents and visitors alike. The prices of the houses are rising along with district’s popularity.
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons