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“The bad reputation the canals had of being stinky and dangerous has lifted. It does help that the waterways are more populated nowadays as this makes [the area] much more homely. Renting and buying in London is impossible for young people these days and buying a narrowboat seems an easier, cheaper option. This new young demographic has only helped the success of the trading boats and the image of the London canals.

“I’ve been on the water for almost 10 years now and the populace has perhaps quadrupled in that time. It’s getting very difficult to find mooring spaces and the newbies are a bit rubbish at canal etiquette. But on the upside, a growing, vibrant community is always a good thing.”

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Emma Underhill, director, Floating Cinema

The Floating Cinema returns to London’s canals this week with a programme of films about the extraordinary in everyday life.

“There is something very magical about the idea of a floating cinema which captures people’s imaginations,” says Underhill. “When looking at the rapidly changing landscape [of London], the canals are one of the few things that remain constant. The Extra-Ordinary theme [for this year’s Floating Cinema] focuses on the extraordinary and overlooked in daily life. The canals and what they can offer are part of that.”

The Floating Cinema’s 10-week programme features an eclectic collection of shorts and features, from specially commissioned work, such as a film about the River Lea, to more commercial offerings, including  a ‘Horror Weekender’.

As well as on board screenings, there will be larger scale outdoor screenings for bankside audiences and even floating tours, such as ‘London Lost’, led by experts in human remains and London’s burial grounds from the Museum of London Archaeology. There’s a mix of free and ticketed events, so check the website for more details.

“We want Floating Cinema to encourage people to appreciate the canals and experience something unique in an unusual location,” Underhill adds. “As we navigate the waterways, we‘ll attract people to areas of London they wouldn’t ordinarily explore.”


3 More To Try

Souk On The Water

The tow path by Mile End Park will host this floating market throughout August, although it’s often on the move, sometimes mooring by Broadway Market or City Road Basin. See Facebook for updates.  

The Sandwich Barge

This ‘organic cruising cafe’ serves up homemade cakes and drinks as well as renowned sarnies and is currently moored on the River Lea at Springfield Park in Upper Clapton.  

The Palm Tree

It don’t float, but this awesome East End boozer (with gold wallpaper!) is the epicentre of canalside cool, right next to the water by Mile End Park. Plus, being all the way out on the eastern edges gives it an even stronger sense of being a secret idyll. 127 Grove Road, E3 5BH


Photos: Facebook and supplied


Canal culture: Floating cafes, boutiques, cinemas and bookshops are the latest London craze
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