A Trip to London – The Canal Museum
by Arthur Cox
The trippers: Arthur Cox, Nicola Wright, Tansy Peters and Isobel Reynolds.
Sunday 27th September 2015.
As a late birthday gift from my three daughters it was arranged that I was taken to London for a day out. The destination was the London Canal Museum near King’s Cross Station. I drove from my home in Latchingdon and arrived at Nicola’s house in Tiptree. Packed lunches were prepared and then Nicola’s husband Ian drove us to Kelvedon railway station where we got the 10.40am train to Liverpool Street.
While on the train Nicola realise that the booking for the museum was wrong and was for three persons instead of four. She contacted the Museum to change this. But we were not sure if that had been done.
From Liverpool Street we got a cab to the museum and were met at the door by Isobel and Tansy. The booking had been for both the museum and a boat trip along the Regent Canal. We plenty of time before the boat trip which was scheduled for 2.0pm so we looked around in the museum first. Found that formerly the building had been a warehouse for the storage of ice which was imported in sailing ships from Norway and even from as far as Boston, USA. We inspected a very large deep hole in the floor where the blocks of ice were stored. We read that ice was sometimes taken to India.
There was the front part of a canal narrow boat and we entered to see how the bargee’s family lived in such a compact space. We much admired the traditional painted panels, buckets and other articles – all in the traditional Roses and Castle motif.
We watched a film show of old moving images of barges and street scenes in London arranged to follow the pathway of a barge across London on the Regent Canal.
We watched another film show about Mr Gatti who came from Italy and eventually made his fortune with both the ice trade and the making of ice cream in this same building. Saw an interesting model showing about how ice was made and this replaced the earlier system of importing ice blocks from abroad.
Then we went upstairs for more exhibits.
Two o’clock arrived and we went outside to a quay and there boarded a small boat (not a barge as we expected) – just twelve people. Plus the skipper and a volunteer guide. A few words about safety on the trip and then we moved out from the basin and joined the main canal.
Saw a large number of barges – mainly now residential places. Many of the building looked good with some old and converted into apartments and some new apartment blocks built in the old style to match.
The tunnel is ¾ mile long. The canal is wide and so was the tunnel but now restricted to one boat at a time so no passing is allowed. The old signal system is lost but now one does not enter if a distant light is seen in the tunnel. This will be an approaching barge.
After the tunnel came a short stretch of the canal and under a bridge and then to City Road locks. Formerly a pair but now a single lock. Here in a basin the boat turned round for the return journey.
As we approached the tunnel we saw in the far distance a light and had to stop and wait for an approaching barge to come through.
We disembarked and found a picnic table in the sunshine – ate our meal together.
Then back in the museum for a final inspection and then out to the street.
We all walked to King’s Cross railway station. Nicola and I got a cab to Liverpool street. There was a mix up with train times and we got a later train than we expected – to Witham where Ian collected us and drove to Tolleshunt D’Arcy to get take away curry meals. We ate those at Nicola’s house in Tiptree. I drove home about 8.30pm.
Two final pictures.
A location map. The museum is in New Wharf Road and marked on the map by a black diamond. very near King’s Cross station.