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London Canal Museum

Saturday 14th January 2017


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On Saturday, 15 January, a party of members visited this museum, situated at 12-13, New Wharf Road, N1 9RT. It’s about ten minutes walk from Kings Cross Station and thus easily accessible. The building had a previous existence as an ice warehouse. It backs on to Battlebridge Basin, which is an arm of the Regent’s Canal, named in honour of the Prince Regent, later King George the Fourth. This canal connected the Grand Junction Canal at Little Venice with the Thames at Limehouse, and thus provided a link between the inland waterways of the industrial Midlands and North and the tidal Thames. A large map on the first floor shows the River, Canal, and other waterways in the London area.

After enjoying coffee, we were given an excellent talk by a guide who obviously knew his stuff, and illustrated it with appropriate anecdotes. We then had ample time to study the various displays on the two floors of the museum and take a quick look outside at the Basin in which numerous privately owned pleasure craft were moored. Inside there was a traditional narrow boat, of the sort used to carry cargo, and on many of these, the families who worked the boats actually lived.

Many of the photographic displays featured people who worked on the Regent’s Canal or in the industries that adjoined it. The photographs were supplemented by scripts of interviews. These people represented a way of life that has now passed away.   Cargo carrying ceased in the 1960s, but the Canal is now a great amenity, especially where it passes through Regent’s Park, although other stretches are of great interest to local and industrial historians. The Canal has in fact reinvented itself. The cargo carrying narrow boats have been replaced by waterbuses and private pleasure craft, whilst the dock where the Canal meets the Thames is now a marina.

After a fascinating time, we walked the short distance to Carluccio’s restaurant at St Pancras Station, where we enjoyed lunch with wine and coffee.

Thanks are due to our Master, Sally Gill, for organising such an enjoyable and informative event.

                              Bob Chandler.

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