Angel Day was started in the 1980's by the late Crystal Hale as a fund-raising event for the narrow boat 'Angel' used to give inner city children boat rides and trips into the countryside.

 

In 1987 Crystal was joined by Jim Lagden, who had wide experience of staging events in the Midlands and London, and together they co-founded the 'Angel Canal Festival' to celebrate the return of narrowboat Angel from a week long trip with inner city children aboard.

 

Years before, Crystal (daughter of Sir Alan Herbert) had spearheaded a successful campaign to save the City Road Basin from being filled in and built on. With the help of family, friends, local people & Councilors, Crystal started up two clubs on the City Road Basin; the Angel Community Canal Boat Trust (ACCT) complete with nb 'Angel' and the Islington Boat Club (IBC). The 'Angel' takes groups out on both day and residential trips while the Boat Club teaches children water safety, canoeing, sailing and runs a Youth Club. The basin is still home to the two thriving clubs who use it extensively for the benefit of thousands of youngsters every year.

 

 

Early picture of the first Angel narrowboat with Crystal Hale at the tiller.

 

All change, Angel 1 and Angel 2 above the lock at Islington. 

 

For 11 yrs Crystal & Jim staged the Festival, always the first Sunday in September, developing it into a well-loved event with stalls, a children's fun-fair, live music, boat trips and a boat rally with free admission for all. In 1998 Crystal became ill and was unable to continue and Jim called for help to carry on. Local groups responded well - St Pancras Cruising Club (SPCC), London Canal Museum (LCM), Friends of Islington Museum (FoIM) and both ACCT & IBC, as well as Canal & River Trust  (CRT).

 

Crystal died in 1999 aged 84 having left a great legacy; the Basin, the Clubs and the Festival. Despite failing eye-sight Jim, helped by guide-dog Flint, worked on until his death in 2009. The Festival goes from strength to strength attracting up to 7000+.

While keeping the unique village-fete-with-boats atmosphere, the scope has widened to include community groups with Bridgeside Lodge, a Nursing Home overlooking the Basin, and Packington Community Centre, serving a nearby council estate, holding their Summer Fairs on the same day.The boating fraternity are well represented as are Community boats from the adjoining boroughs of Camden & Hackney who give tours of their boats and trips. In addition, local charities and groups use the event to raise funds and awareness.

Angel 2 on her maiden voyage. When Crystal died she left funds towards a new boat- Angel 1 was sold and continues to be used as a private boat.

 

Jim Langden- for many years Crystal's right hand man. Still actively involved with the Festival despite his failing eyesight.

 

As the event is FREE we rely on funding and gifts in kind from many sources including the Community Chest, City Road Basin Limited, The Eric Evans Memorial Trust, The Morris Charitable Trust, the GLA/London Canals Committee, Gratte Brothers Ltd, LBI Regeneration, and Pollard Thomas Edwards Architects.We also have excellent support from BW London, SPCC, the Inland Waterways Association and the London Canal Museum and Islington Council.The Festival is run by un-paid volunteers who put in approximately 1600 hrs a year.

 

Our aim is to produce an enjoyable day-long Festival celebrating the Regents Canal around the City Road Lock and Basin area promoting the canal as an historic, local, community, environmental and leisure asset for all to enjoy.

This 1977 postcard shows the first Angel narrowboat above the lock at Islington, this is the centrepoint of todays Angel Canal Festival. With the exception of the old lock cottages (now hidden behind trees) all the buildings you see have now gone and have been replaced by housing.

The Angel Canal Festival is Organised by the ACF Management Team comprising

British Waterways, Islington Boat Club, Islington Narrowboat Association, St. Pancras Cruising Club, London Canal Museum, Friends of Islington Museum, Friends of Regent's Canal, London Borough of Islington.