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Camden New Journal - by PETER GRUNER
Published: 14 June 2007
Pictured left to right: boat owners Jake Elster Jones, Patrick Dunham, Jonathon Rose, Daniel S Langton, and Helen Rose with baby Manon
Pictured left to right: boat owners Jake Elster Jones, Patrick Dunham, Jonathon Rose, Daniel S Langton, and Helen Rose with baby Manon
Castaway on
Regent’s Canal

King’s Cross development set to make houseboat community homeless

A YOUNG family of four on a houseboat at King’s Cross – including a month-old baby – face being cast adrift on London’s desolate network of canals in two weeks time.
The family – Helen and Jake Elster Jones and their two children – occupy one of a group of nine secured houseboats that are moored at Goodsway, off York Way.
The boats and their occupants are being evicted at the end of the month to make way for the £2 billion King’s Cross development.
It means the end of an era for the unique houseboat community who have made the Regent’s Canal their home for the past 20 years.
Faced with homelessness, the community is appealing to Holborn and St Pancras MP Frank Dobson and Finsbury South and Islington MP Emily Thornberry to intervene on their behalf.
Helen and Jake have acted as unpaid watchdogs and supporters of the waterways from their boat, Romsey.
But next month they must cast off from the towpath just below the BP garage with their two-year-old and baby to search for new moorings.
Helen, a member of the management committee of nearby Camley Street Nature Park, said: “We always hoped they would let us stay when they began work. Or at the very least provide a suitable temporary site.
“Three years ago we were told that there would be new moorings for us at Goods Way. We’ve heard nothing more about that. They have offered alternative moorings for five boats nearby but access and security is poor and with two children we daren’t risk it.
“We can’t afford to rent a house, and besides, our life is on the canals.
“I’m extremely nervous about trying to find a suitable mooring with a new baby and a toddler.”
The boat owners’ lives are closely tied to the area. They are all registered to vote there, have residents’ parking bays, a normal postal service, and are registered at local doctors and dentists.
A number of the residents – including another couple with children aged two and five – run small businesses based in the area from their boats.
Members of the community – whose presence has brought security to both the towpath and the canal – are still hoping for a last-minute change of heart by British Waterways and the developer Argent.
Roger Madelin, spokesman for Argent, said: “We are sorry for anyone being made homeless but the people at Goods Way have known about this development for several years.
“First, it is not an official residential moorings and it is just not possible to work around them.”
Murad Qureshi, London Assembly Member ,said: “The canal boaters should be treated the same way as those on land in such matters.
“Indeed the developers of King’s Cross accommodated the needs of people living in Stanley Buildings only recently, so why not the residential boaters of the Goods Way moorings?”
He added: “If their needs are not accommodated by the developers, the residential boaters could well become the homeless responsibility of Camden or Islington, when all of them still want to retain their way of life in their homes, which happen to be narrow boats.”

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