London Boaters

Text and photographs by Eugenio Grosso

In the picture a view of Regent’s canal.

Britain has a long tradition of sailing and the first records we have about it date back to AD 550 to a Saxon burial boat. Since then the British navy has developed and in 1660 the Royal Navy was formally established. After the time when Britain was informally called the Kingdom of the Waves the British influence on the sea has known a period of decadence. Nowadays very little remains of that glorious past but the sense of the Britons for the water resists the time. In fact if you take a stroll along London canals, or visit any other canal in Britain, you are very likely to meet a long line of colourful narrow boats, which are home for so many people in the country.

Rachel poses for a portrait. She is an artist and moved in a boat on December 1st last year. She decided to move in a boat because she wanted to do something for herself and like very much this lifestyle.

Sam poses for a portrait inside his boat where he lives from two years. He’s a performer and chose to live in a boat to have his own place.

A view of the river Lea in Springfield park with some houseboats.

 

According to a 2013 report for the London Assembly ‘city’s waterways are the permanent or winter home of at least 4,000 to 5,000 residential boats, and 10,000 people’. Along with the old community a new breed of boaters has started populating the canals in these days. Entrepreneurs, students and artists are escaping the dry land to join the fleet. This allows them to have their own place, save some money and be independent. On the other hand to live in a boat means to face new difficulties that were just unimaginable before. Cold in winter, the need to move every 15 days and lack of constant electricity, are all issues you have to deal with. However, despite of all that, most of the people interviewed said that they would never go back to the dry land.

In the picture a passage under a bridge on Regent’s canal.

In the picture Lindon poses for a portrait at the wheel of his boat. Lindon lives in a boat from 4 years since he divorced from his wife.

In the picture Lindon poses for a portrait at the wheel of his boat. Lindon lives in a boat from 4 years since he divorced from his wife.

Richard poses for a portrait on top of his boat on the river Lea. He lives on a boat from 4 years and works as a plumber. He said that things happened and that’s why he started living on a boat.

In the picture Duane enjoys the sunny day on the deck of his friend boat. He lives on a boat as well and says that it’s great. He just moved in a week ago because the rent in London was too high. He works as a cofee roaster.