Arts centre set for canalside in Hackney despite boat dwellers’ opposition

Kingsland Basin

Kingsland Basin - Credit: Archant

Hector Proud - the man behind The Idea Generation Gallery in Shoreditch - is keen to reassure the Canal in Hackney User Group (CHUG) his new cafe and arts centre on the Regent’s Canal Kingsland Basin, Modern History, will not be the noise generator they fear.

Kingsland Basin

Kingsland Basin - Credit: Archant

An arts centre looks set to open on the banks of the Regent’s Canal, despite opposition from nearby boat dwellers anxious about noise travelling over the water.

Hector Proud

Hector Proud - Credit: Archant

Hector Proud wants to launch the café and cultural space, Modern History, in Hertford Road backing onto the Kingsland Basin, after his last edgy artistic project – The Idea Generation Gallery – was priced out of Shoreditch.

But the move has horrified Narrowboat residents from the Canal in Hackney User Group (CHUG), who have lived in the canal basin off Kingsland Road for the last 30 years.

Mr Proud’s application to host music, film, theatre and dance performances on a seated terrace area sparked 24 letters of objection from CHUG, along with flat owners in the densely populated area, to the council’s licensing committee.


“The noise carries around the basin and bounces off the flats so even a small amount of noise can cause disturbance,” said one resident.

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“We have several children under five in the basin and since we live on boats we don’t have the luxury of bricks to help drown out the noise,” said another.

Another wrote: “I have worked in local pubs where residents are happy with their local 200-year-old pub and do not object to it.

“I think it is an altogether different set of issues when bars are opened in a residential area or an area of peace tranquillity and beauty, or where there is a large natural habitat for a number of wild creatures.”

Mr Proud, who has lived in the De Beauvoir neighbourhood for around 30 years, said he can understand their concerns.

“People were pretty much scared we were going to open a night club, but the idea is to work closely with everyone to make sure it’s in balance with the people around us,” he said.

He wants Modern History to become a 21st century version of London’s traditional coffee houses, and to go beyond The Idea Generation Gallery’s coverage of contemporary modern popular culture.

“We want to bring people in who don’t normally go into galleries, and engage and enthuse them with the story we are telling,” he said.

He is drawing up the “broadest conceivable programme you can think of” from children’s art events, daytime readings for stay at home mums, comedy shows, a running club as well as “clean the canal” weekenders.

“The key element of fringe culture is it’s open to everyone, it’s inclusive and it’s experimental,” said Mr Proud, who founded the Shoreditch Fringe Festival last year.

Modern History should open in the summer after the council’s licensing committee gave it the go-ahead on the condition the terrace is not used after 9.30pm.