London Canal Museum

The London Canal Museum is dedicated to preserving an oft-overlooked aspect of England’s rich and complicated past by demonstrating the importance of canals to the growth and development of British culture, industry, and society, especially from the eighteenth century onwards. Located in a Victorian-era warehouse originally used for storing ice, the London Canal Museum contains a series of exhibits that shed light on the history of the city’s inland waterways and how they’ve functioned throughout time via a collection of artifacts, equipment, and more.

Money Saving Tip! London Canal Museum is included on the London Pass and GoCity London Pass. If you are sightseeing in London, then you can save a lot of money with the pass.

History of the London Canal Museum

The London Canal Museum is operated by the Canal Museum Trust, a charitable organization formed in 1979 for the purpose of providing public education services about the history of inland waterways and their many uses. The museum opened its doors to the public in 1992. It’s housed within a Victorian-era warehouse that was once owned by Carlo Gotti, a Swiss-born businessman who made a fortune in London selling ice cream and chocolate at a number of popular restaurants and cafés. In the middle of the nineteenth century, a time before modern refrigeration methods, Gotti needed ways to keep his products cold. Thus, he constructed this large ice warehouse and outfitted it with two ice wells where he could sustain tons of ice for use in his enterprises. This remarkable warehouse is itself a notable feature of the museum experience today.

London Canal Museum Highlights

The permanent collection of the London Canal Museum comprises a host of historic artifacts like a Wickham tractor, a Bolinder engine, an ice-cream maker that dates to the early twentieth century, and a display case full of objects pertaining to the ice-importing trade. Highlights of a visit here include the opportunity to peer inside the interior of a restored narrowboat cabin and the chance to look down one of the original ice wells that Carlo Gotti utilized during the middle of the nineteenth century.

The London Canal Museum is an especially welcoming space for small children. Parents will want to keep an eye out for the attraction’s Activity Zone: located on the museum’s ground floor, this small play area has toys, coloring books, blocks, markers, whiteboards, and more. Cut-out model boats that your little one can create themselves are even available upon request from the front desk.

The London Canal Museum stages two or three different temporary exhibitions throughout the course of a given year. These shows will vary depending on when you visit, but will typically pertain to relevant subjects like London’s canals or the ice trade; from time to time, they’ll consist of an art exhibit or some other creative display.

More to See and Do at the London Canal Museum

Keep reading for some additional things of note relating to the London Canal Museum.

*The London Canal Museum shop sells a diverse selection of gifts and souvenirs, including toys, coffee mugs, notecards, decorative utensils, art prints, and more. The shop also proudly bills itself as possessing the largest selection of canal books available for purchase anywhere in the United Kingdom.

*The London Canal Museum doesn’t have any food or drink options. However, you’ll find a significant number of pubs and restaurants in the surrounding area, so feel free to ask a staff member for a local recommendation: they’ll be happy to provide you with a tip.

*The simplest way to arrive at the London Canal Museum is via public transportation, as the attraction is located with walking distance of five stations; the most prominent of these options is King’s Cross station, a major hub situated only several hundred yards away. To learn more, visit the London Canal Museum’s official website, where you’ll find detailed transit information, including specific walking routes for travelers arriving from a variety of directions.

Why London Canal Museum Should Be on Your Must-See List

Located just north of popular London tourist attractions like the Charles Dickens Museum, the Foundling Museum, the Postal Museum, the Cartoon Museum, and the British Museum, the London Canal Museum makes for a quirky and educational destination. History lovers, boating fanatics, and families with small children will all likely find this underrated spot well worth their time.