This area was originally known as Paddington. It was transformed into a busy transport route by the arrival of the canal in 1801. It was only after World War II that people began to call it Little Venice. It was Lord Byron who made the connection, comparing this area of Paddington to Venice in Italy, but unfavourably. His point was the waterways were potentially as fine as the canals of Venice, but the area and housing around them were dirty, shabby and run-down. Lord Byron used to amuse himself by taking his famous publisher, John Murray, along the canal and pause on the bridge below its basin, and point out that a publisher had once drowned himself there in a state of despair. The fine freestanding villas of Blomfield Road were built in Victorian times, their designs inspired by the Nash houses of Regent’s Park. Some survive, but many have been demolished and replaced by apartment buildings. In the early days of the Regent’s Canal, there was a sharp contrast in the classes of those that inhabited this area – the Victorian gentry in their smart houses, and the boatmen and their families who lived and worked on the boats in the canal. Little Venice only assumed its present name officially in the 1950s.
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