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In 1815 William Horsfall, a local landowner, arranged for the Regent's Canal Company to dump the spoil from Islington Tunnel on his land to form a navigable basin.

On 1st August 1820 the City State Barge left Horsfall's Basin at 11am to celebrate the completion of the Regent's Canal down to Limehouse Dock. Unfortunately the wharfs were not complete so it was not until 1822 that barges began to use the basin. Horsfall's Basin soon became known as Maiden Lane Basin or King's Cross Basin before becoming Battlebridge Basin, perhaps to celebrate the demolition of the hated king's cross, erected in honour of George IV in 1836, torn down in 1842, although the Great Northern Railway had no such qualms about the name (1852). Battlebridge was the old name for the area, being the ancient crossing of the river Fleet at Gray's Inn Road.

Mr Horsfall protected his basin with a sufficient water supply in perpetuity, without payment to the Regent's Canal Company, by an Act of Parliament. This Act survived both the amalgamation of the Regent's Canal Company into the Grand Union Canal Company in 1929 and the nationalisation of the waterways in 1948. By 1970 Battlebridge Basin was more or less desolate.

In 1978 the London Narrow Boat Association, with a little help from their friends, moved in, prevented infilling for building, listed and dredged it.

They secured planning consent and a thousand year lease of the south end for the London Narrow Boat Company.

British Waterways bought the freehold in 2000.