IN ROMAN times, legions of soldiers would have marched through the site of Paddington on their way to the north of England. And in Anglo-Saxon times, a man named Padda created a small settlement in the area which was named after him.

But all this changed in 1801 when the Grand Union Canal was extended into Paddington, bringing traders, warehouses and wealth with it.

Starting off by the Paddington Basin, our tour guide Myra Morgan explained that even in the last 10 years, canal-side Paddington has been vastly transformed thanks to a regeneration project.

"The canal is very much alive today," she said. "But now it's mostly just pleasure or residential craft. Overnight moorings are very much sought after, as there's no charge for a stay during the summer."

Walking along the towpath, we quickly came to Little Venice which is flanked by dozens of brightly coloured canal boats.

We walked past the old toll house, which we were told measured boats on all four corners.

"Different charges were applied, depending on how low the boat sat in the water.

"They checked all four corners to make sure unscrupulous traders were not loading the boat more heavily on one side than the other," Ms Morgan said.

Although at the start of the walk we were promised an explanation of how the area got its name, the truth is that nobody is entirely sure.

Poet Robert Browning, who had a house in Warwick Crescent overlooking the canal, is said to have run off with his wife, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, to live in Italy.

When he died in Venice, it is said the area was named after him in his honour.

"Other theories," our learned guide told us, "are that it was named after John Ruskin, who wrote 'The Stones of Venice', or it could have been the poet Byron.

"But whatever the truth, estate agents were very quick to take up the name and use it to full advantage." [25cf] Guided walks, run by Paddington Waterside Partnership, Paddington BID and City of Westminster Guide Lecturers' Association, run until the end of the year. The Paddington and Little Venice walk is repeated on September 30 and November 11.

See  or call 020 3145 1200 to book a place.