Canal Museum

June 26, 2009 at 9:52 pm | Posted in General, London, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK | Leave a comment
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Close to Kings Cross in London is the Canal Museum, which provides a history of  London’s canals within a broader national context.

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Before we move onto the content and display I wanted to offer some praise to the museum. While I did find the website a little clunky I was pleasantly surprised to find they had a downloadable audio tour available and are on twitter.

Now onto the museum.

The museum is split over two floors. The ground floor covers the history of the canals, the boats and their functions while the second floor details the changing shape of the waterways from their heyday, demise and resurgence as well as a temporary display space.

So what did I learn? I think I was most surprised by how manual the boating process was with the use of horses walking along them to get them moving or men nestled along the sides to nudge them through the narrow tunnels. Motorisation clearly came late to this area. Even so the boats didn’t fall completely out of favour as a means of shipping until the 60s when a severe freeze stopped traffic. Speaking of the cold, the canals were originally used to transport ice around London thus providing the first widespread access to ice cream.

It’s £3 and on the one hand the floor space and volume of content is perhaps a bit small but on the hand it is fairly interesting and frankly when entry is less than a £5 note I’m willing to overlook it.

After the canal museum I took the opportunity to walk along the canals up to Camden.
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It was a bit of a walk with less than spectacular scenery but pleasant enough with the opportunity to view the canal boats in action.
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Though the semi industrial edges were a bit of a let down (although what do you expect given the original nature of the canals).
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Some more photos at Flickr!

Foundling Museum

June 26, 2009 at 8:52 pm | Posted in General, London, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK | 2 Comments
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London’s Foundling Museum is somewhat interesting as an art gallery and history of abandoned children in the capital but not interesting enough to warrant a £5 admission price.

The museum is located near Coram Fields – a playground for children (adults may only enter if accompanied by a child). I have fond memories of visiting here on my first visit to London as a child. Revelling in the power of not “accompanying” my parents and denying them entry.

As for the musuem itself it is split roughly into three sections. The first provides a rather well presented history of the building as its use for foundlings and abandoned children (or in latter years – due to limited numbers – those selected from mothers petitioning the trustees). This area gives an outline of the children’s lives before, during and after the house.

The bulk of the house is given over to art work (it was London’s first public gallery). It was pleasant but I can’t comment on the quality as I’m a dullard on that point. On a similar artistic note, the museum includes a section on one of the museums supporters – the composer Handel. One of the galleries is also used for musical performances and on days when there is one then the entry fee is probably worthwhile.

Finally, the other main area within the museum is a special exhibits area with a changing rotation of displays. However, if you’re not willing to pay you could stop in at the cafe. I’ve not tried it so let me know what you think!

Overall, the Foundling Museum is ok but nothing particularly special – unless you have a strong interest in the history of abandoned children in the capital.

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