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A History


The first comment uttered by many who walk the tow path to Lock Keepers Cottages is normally 'Wow, it looks so small!' That's because it is.

The Big Breakfast house is in fact three small cottages knocked together.

After looking at locations all over London, three canal-side cottages were chosen to be the home of The Big Breakfast. They had to be well away from any other homes so that the production team could be free to make as much noise and mayhem as they wished.

Built in 1947 to replace the WW2 bomb-damaged previous Old Ford Lock cottages on Hertford Union Canal, Lock Cottage started life as numbers 1,2 & 3 Lock Keepers Cottages for lock keepers, toll takers and navigation operators. In 1962, the cottages were bought by British Waterways, but a combination of declining canal traffic and a local property market freefall led to an undignified decline into dereliction.

In 1992 The Big Breakfast production company, Bob Geldof owned Planet 24 Limited, bought up all three and knocked them into one. Just seven weeks before the first show the house was a dilapidated wreck. The building had not been lived in for twenty years and it had broken windows, graffiti and even crumbling walls. One hundred and forty workmen set to work on the building.

The only way to get to the house is on foot across a narrow foot bridge which meant that the 30-ton truck that once acted as the show's production gallery had to be winched over the canal on a huge crane. There were a few anxious faces amongst the crew when halfway over Old Ford Lock the truck started to bend ominously in the middle.
Old Ford Lock 1947

The house, early 1992

Renovation begins, 1992

Gallery truck hoisted into place, 1992
With two weeks to go the house was finally in shape - it was then the turn of designer Cath Pater Lancucki to start on the interiors. A long time was spent on what was to become Zig & Zag's bathroom, all the plumbing was replaced so, as long as you asked nicely, our favourite aliens could even let you take a shower!

By the airdate on 28th September 1992 The Big Breakfast house had an interior comprising of eleven spacious rooms with full central heating and plumbing throughout. The stairs lead to a tastefully decorated master bedroom, spare bedroom and bathroom with underwater scene feature.

In 1996 parent company Channel 4 bought the house from Planet 24, to fund its transformation into a 1920s style art-deco des res.  

In Summer 2002, following the Big Breakfast's axing Channel 4 decided to put the property on the market. Francis Luke bought the house in December 2002 for £550,000 - almost half its million pound asking price due to heavy arson damage suffered on November 8th 2002. Francis Luke and his family moved into the house almost straight away along side a restoration team who have shaped Lock Cottage into a six bed property - even retaining the 35 meter long sunburst wall and small swimming pool at the rear.

The house was valued at £650,000 in spring 2005 a price sure to quadruple considering its location next to the 2012 Olympic Stadium.
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