London Drum

London Canal Museum – King’s Cross

London Canal Museum
Where? London Canal Museum, 12-13 New Wharf Road, King’s Cross · Web: Opening times? 10 AM to 4.30 PM (Wed-Sun); Last entry 30 mins before closing Visiting hours may change Price? Adults £6.00; Children £3.00 (7-15); Infants free entry (under-7); Family ticket £14.00 Entry charges may change Time required? A typical visit is 45 mins Parking: Nearby car parks Buses: 10, 17, 59, 91, 259, 390 Bus fares Trains: The closest station is King’s Cross St. Pancras Circle Ham&City Metropolitan Northern Piccadilly Victoria Train fares

Craig’s review… There comes a point in everybody’s life where they swap the shots in a nightclub for a freeze-box full of French bread and sausage rolls on the banks of a canal. They stretch their legs out in the tall wispy grass and watch the houseboats chugging by, maybe waving at an old couple onboard as if they’ve known them for years (you always have to wave at strangers on a boat – that’s one of the rules of the riverbank), then they go home and watch Songs of Praise on the telly. That’s what life is like down at the canal. But it wasn’t always like that, because fifty years ago it was like a smokey motorway.

The London Canal Museum is one of those places that will probably attract you if you did it… if you were actually there in the 1950s and 60s and can remember how it was in your youth. That means you have to be at least seventy years old to appreciate it. That’s how old all the visitors are today (all two of them). I’m standing here watching an old bloke flicking through his Rolodex of memories whilst his wife patiently waits for him to access an anecdote that she’s probably heard about a hundred times already. They look like a couple of old photos in sepia-tinged clothes.

It’s quite a nice atmosphere actually – they’re playing a few piano tunes out of the speakers and showing a black-and-white documentary on the telly with one of those plummy-old BBC announcers explaining what life was like for the working class. It’s a very patronising program – See how they take great pride in their work! – but it does have some decent scenes of industrial London.

History of the Regent’s Canal

The placards tell you all about the Regent’s Canal and why it was built, how it was built, where it went, what they carried down it, and how they transported the goods… they’ve got lots of faded old photos of flat cap dockers with their sleeves rolled up and chucking big bags of foodstuffs over their shoulders. They show you a few models of the boats and barges as well. But like I said, it’s all aimed at the pensioners who can remember it. I don’t mind perusing all this stuff myself because I quite like looking at old photos of London, but I’m not sure it will interest a tourist.

Houseboats and barges

The big surprise is out the back because they let you exit through a glass door onto a small section of the canal, where you’ll find a couple of colourful houseboats moored up in front of a bland backdrop of flats. You’re not allowed to enter any of them unfortunately, but you can stand there in the drizzling rain and catch a cold, if you want.

Worth a visit? Value for money? Good for kids? Easy to get to?

I also recommend… If you enjoy this then try Museum of London Docklands (catch a tube from Kings Cross St Pancras to West India Quay). You might also like a ride through Little Venice on Jason’s Canal Trip

London Squire bookThe owns and has spent the last decade reviewing the capital’s landmarks, attractions and hotels. His guidebook is available from Amazon

Your comments and questions

SteveS Do they do boat rides on the canal?

Craig Hi SteveS. You can go out the back door and see a few houseboats but that's literally all you can do -- just look at them. They're not museum exhibits. They don't do boat rides.

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