The museum was opened in 1992. It is housed in a Victorian ice warehouse that was used by Carlo Gatti. Carlo Gatti (1817–1878) was a Swiss entrepreneur in the Victorian era. Carlo had moved to London by 1847 at the latest, and lived in the Italian community in Holborn. At first, he ran a stall selling waffles and chestnuts. In 1849, he began to run a café and restaurant with partners. They specialised in selling chocolate and ice cream. They put a chocolate-making machine in the window to attract business, and took ice for the ice cream from Regent's Canal under a contract with the Regent's Canal Company. Their shop was the first to sell ice cream to the public; previously, ice cream was an expensive treat confined to rich people with access to an ice house. Gatti exhibited his chocolate-making machine, imported from France, at the Great Exhibition in 1851. Also in 1851, Gatti opened a stand in Hungerford Market, near Charing Cross, to sell pastries and ice cream. A portion of ice cream was sold for one penny served in a shell, perhaps the origin of the penny lick. The building was constructed between 1862 and 1863 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 building was constructed between 1862 and 1863 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.
At the London Canal Museum you can see inside a narrowboat cabin, learn about the history of London's canals, about the cargoes carried, the people who lived and worked on the waterways, and the horses that pulled their boats. The museum is on two floors and the ground floor is divided into a street-level gallery (with level entrance) and a mezzanine area. Power operated sliding doors are installed at the entrance and these are usually automatic in operation, but sometimes have to be opened by staff for security reasons. Just knock on the door if the doors do not open right away. The cabin of the narrowboat Coronis cannot be modified to provide access for wheelchairs because to do so would destroy it. The cabin demonstrates the cramped conditions in which the canal-boat families used to live. As an alternative we have provided a virtual tour, at the entrance to the narrowboat. Using a track-ball you can explore the interior of the cabin. There are in fact two virtual tours. The first shows the cuboard doors closed, the second shows them open so you can have a look inside. You will be surprised at the excellent view of the cabin that you will have. The computer that provides the virtual tour also offers the mini-drama using a pair of headphones. All staircases have handrails both sides and tactile rubber mats at the top and bottom, a few inches away from the first step. Contrasting white nosings are fitted to all the steps. The main staircase to the first floor has an effective non-slip surface. The doors operate either automatically or by push button. The wharf at the rear is an open wharf with only a very low wall to designate the edge of the canal. It is reccommended that if you are completely without sight you should not approach the water unaccompanied, in the interests of safety. An entertaining, interesting audio tour of the museum is available. It is semi-automatic in operation. The visitor carries a small unit and wears headphones. As he or she walks around, the unit detects the visitor's location and plays the appropriate content. There is no additional charge. Sighted companions may download the script of the audio tour for visually-impaired persons.(PDF Format). There are a significant number of exhibitions that you can touch and feel. For example, you can explore the cabin of the narrowboat Coronis by touch, and get a good idea of the sort of conditions in which people used to live afloat. A large-print edition of the mini-guide is available on request. Guide dogs are welcome.
Location : 12 - 13 New Wharf Road, London N1 9RT
Transport: Kings Cross (Northern Line, Picadilly Line, Hammersmith + City, Victoria Line, Metropolitan Line). Directions from Tube station. Kings Cross (National Rail). London Buses routes northbound 91, and 17 routes stop in Wharfdale Road and the automatic announcements inside the bus say "Wharfdale Road, London Canal Museum". The southbound route 10 also stops at the same stop.
Opening Times: Tuesday to Sunday 10:00 to 16:30.
First Thursday of month until 19:30
Tickets : Adults £4.00 Children £2.00
Concession / Senior £3.00 Discount for Groups
Tel: 020 7713 0836