London Canal Museum in London

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London Canal Museum in the King's Cross area of London, England, is a regional museum that displays information about the history of London's canals.


The museum was opened in 1992. It is housed in a Victorian ice warehouse that was used by Carlo Gatti. The building was constructed around 1860 to house ice imported from Norway by ship and canal barge. There are two preserved ice wells under the building, one of which may be viewed from the public area of the museum. The museum is independent, self funded and a registered charity. It is run and managed almost completely by volunteers. It is often used as a venue for private functions out of opening hours.which provides income to support it.


The museum is situated in the King's Cross area of London, on the Regent's Canal. Battlebridge Basin is accessible from the rear of the museum. The nearest bus stop is on Wharfdale Road, where routes 17, 91, and 259 northbound, and route 390 southbound, stop. It is a five-minute walk to King's Cross London Underground station.


The exhibitions cover the following topics:

  • introduction to UK waterways
  • canal life (social history)
  • canal art
  • lifting and handling cargo
  • the ice trade
  • canal craft
  • working horses on the canals and the streets
  • the Regent's Canal
  • large scale historical map of London's canals
  • water and locks
  • the museum's Bantam Tug
  • Water and Locks, an exhibition about canal engineering and water supply, opened by H.R.H. The Princess Royal in October 2010

The museum has regular temporary exhibitions that change about twice a year. Oral history from the museum's own collection is used to complement the exhibitions with "listening posts" covering several topics being situated around the building. These are labelled in Braille as well as having conventional signage.


The museum runs monthly evening illustrated talks, summer activities for families, guided towpath walks, guided trips through the Islington Tunnel and Halloween events. In September 2010 the museum took part in Open House London during which admission was free. The museum runs an educational programme with local school groups. Each summer the Mikron Theatre company performs at the museum for one or two nights during a tour by narrowboat.

The museum sponsors two boats at the National Waterways Museum that are part of the national collection. LCM provides financial support to the Boat Museum Society, a voluntary body which works with the NWM on the restoration and maintenance of historic boats. The two boats sponsored by London Canal Museum are Ferrett and Ilkeston.

Online facilities

The museum was the first UK museum to introduce a WAPsite for mobile phones, including a WAPwalk, a guided canal towpath walk using the WAPsite. It was one of London's first museums to become a Wi-Fi hotspot. In September 2007 it became the first UK museum to offer a podcast audio tour of its permanent exhibitions, for the visitor to download in advance and play on his/her own MP3 player. A towpath walking tour is also offered in the same MP3 format. In 2010 oral history recordings were made available online, being edited longer extracts from the museum's collection or reminiscences about life in the working days of the canals. In 2011 the WAPsite had become obsolete and a new smartphone-friendly site was introduced using the .mobi domain name, although the WAPsite was retained for the small number of users still browsing with earlier handsets. In 2011 the museum embraced social networking with a presence and regular activity on Facebook and Twitter.

Green museum

In 2008 the museum became the first museum in London to be accredited by the Green Tourism Business Scheme, achieving a bronze award in the scheme, known in the capital as Green Tourism for London. The museum has continued to make changes to reduce electricity and water consumption, to improve recycling arrangements for waste, and to make purchasing decisions that take environmental considerations into account. At the end of 2010 the museum was re-assessed by the Scheme and awarded Silver status.

See also

  • British Waterways
  • London Transport Museum

External links