Pair ‘forced out’ of floating wendy house with roof made out of Foxtons For Sale signs

Cosy, solid, bijou and with a waterside location, this might be a property that would catch the eye of an estate agent — especially as its roof is made out of Foxtons For Sale signs.

But the floating home on Regent’s Canal in Islington failed to appeal to officials — and this is the scene as they tear it down, leaving its inhabitants homeless.

Friends Max Bloom and Stephen Watt created the Wendy-house-style structure on a stretch of the canal at Angel — near Boris Johnson’s family home.

For a fortnight it had been floating on empty beer kegs borrowed — with permission — from nearby pubs.

Mr Bloom, 30, who spent a month designing the hut before moving with Stephen, 46, added: “We were trying to get it registered, everyone loved it.

“It was warm, we could cook meals in there. People kept asking us if they could hire it out to have a drink in. It was horrible watching it get taken away. We were planning to get solar panels and a shower. The digger couldn’t even break it, it was that strong.”

The hut fell foul of the Canal and River Trust, who sent a squad of enforcement officers with a barge-mounted crane to rip it to pieces at 8am last Thursday.

Mr Bloom said: “They put the door in while we were asleep. They didn’t even knock. I shouted, ‘Who are you?’ and jumped up. I thought it was the police.

“He shouted, ‘We are the Canal and River Trust. Out now!’ We asked for five minutes to get our things but he said we had two.” The former gas plumber, who became homeless eight months ago after breaking up with his girlfriend, added: “We told him we had nowhere to go but he just gave us a number to call and said, ‘Off you go, on your bike.’ Now we are back on the streets.”

A neighbouring boat dweller hailed the hut as art “worthy of the Tate Modern”. She said: “It was very sad to see. It’s so cold at the moment my heart broke for them.

“It’s a shame it was destroyed. No one knows if it’s a brilliant art statement to use Foxtons signs or if it’s just a light, waterproof material for the roof.” 

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She added that the housing crisis had led people to become increasingly resourceful in making shelters: “We’ve seen people living in tents on dinghies, but nothing this well-crafted.”

But the Canal and River Trust said the raft had been unlicensed. A spokesman said the hut was a “deathtrap” at high risk of sinking or catching fire: “Craft on the water have to be licensed and, crucially, safe. If they aren’t, we have strict procedures to make sure we act within the law. It is heartbreaking to see homelessness in London. Our teams do what we can to help. We’re sorry if anyone feels we act without compassion. That’s certainly not the case.”

Foxtons said: “We always strive to ensure our boards are used in the correct manner. While we would never condone illegal activity we do at least appreciate the enterprising way in which they were put to use.”

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