Plaque (lost): Islington Tunnel - east - lost
Through the heart of Angel
After a disappointing competition for tunnel designs, chief engineer James Morgan ended up designing this tunnel himself. It took three years to build, from 1815 to 1818 and was dug by a band of navvies using explosives, wheelbarrows, horses and sheer physical strength.
There is no towpath through the tunnel and boaters' horses were walked over the top. The route they took now passes through housing estates, a market and the thriving business and leisure centre of Angel, Islington.
The Regents Canal
British Waterways London
Heritage Lottery Fund
Two points about the wording on this plaque. 'Navies' were the men who built the canals which were known as 'navigations'. They moved across the country as the construction progressed and so gained a colourful reputation that may, or may not, have been earned. The term was extended to the men who worked on the construction of the railways and then to any construction labourers.
And secondly, the plaque is determined that the area which we know as 'the Angel', is just 'Angel'. Let's ask the Monopoly board to arbitrate!
Site: Islington Tunnel - east (2 memorials)
N1, Grand Union Canal near Colebrooke Row
2019: we found the new plaque had replaced the old. Oddly, there is a second, identical, plaque placed on the east side of the nearby Danbury Street bridge. We haven't been to check but suspect that the plaque at the west end of the Islington Tunnel has also been replaced. Possibly all those erected by British Waterways London have been replaced with Canal & River Trust plaques, as part of a re-branding exercise.