Paddington Central enjoys a unique waterside location in the heart of London and spring provides the perfect opportunity to emerge from hibernation and explore the creative barges, bridges and more along the Grand Union Canal here and further afield towards Merchant Square.
Why not step out over lunch or after work? There are plenty of pit stops along the route. Starting at the western fringe of Paddington Central, our Art Curator, Rosie Glenn, leads the way.
First stop is The Floating Meadow and Chill Garden, a striking barge adorned by wildflowers and grasses, complete with a stylish pop-up garden. Launched by Paddington Central on World Planting Day in conjunction with local garden specialists Clifton Nurseries, the boat’s blooms offer a laid-back country meadow vibe along with inspiration for green-fingered visitors. Studies have shown that plants improve productivity at work and increase overall health and happiness, making a stop-off here the perfect way to boost your energy and mood.
If you’re in need of some artistic fare after all that garden talk, the canal side has two distinctive locations on offer. Head to Darcie & May Green for great food and drink plus iconic artwork by Sir Peter Blake, one of Britain’s foremost artists. Moored on the Grand Union Canal and presented by the award-winning restaurant group the Daisy Green Collection, these two colourful barges are decorated with the celebrated Pop Artist’s trademark motifs, including hearts, stars and letters.
Moving further east alongside the waterway, pedestrians reach a series of intriguing bridges heralded first by Station Bridge, an architectural intervention by Turner Prize-nominated artistic duo Langlands & Bell. Spanning the Grand Union Canal, this structure links the station’s exit to nearby Paddington Waterside. Keen to find out more about the artists and their innovative artwork? Check out their current exhibition Internet Giants: Masters of the Universe at Birmingham’s Ikon Gallery to 10 June.
Station Bridge by Langlands & Bell
Having crossed over to the north side of the canal, the next stop is Rolling Bridge by Thomas Heatherwick’s London-based studio, famed for their design of the 2012 Olympic Cauldron. Conceived as a rolling structure and comprising eight triangular sections, the bridge rolls back on itself as it opens, forming an octagonal construction on the towpath. Rolling Bridge was completed in 2004 and performs for audiences each Wednesday and Friday at noon and on Saturdays at 2pm.
Continuing towards Merchant Square, you’ll come across Fan Bridge, an elegant crossing point between Sunset Terrace and the Praed Street area by Knight Architects and AKT II Engineers. Fabricated in Yorkshire, the bridge’s five steel beams were fittingly transported to Paddington by barge. Rising in sequence with a hydraulic action similar to the movement of a traditional Japanese fan, the beams range from six to seven tonnes each and are balanced by a forty tonne counterweight. Catch the action as Fan Bridge is opened at noon every Wednesday and Friday and at 2pm on Saturdays.
Inspired? We’d love to hear more about your canal-side strolls to see Paddington Central’s nearby creative bridges and barges. Share your photos with us using #PaddingtonSPRING.