A former ice warehouse, the London Canal Museum is now one of the UK’s best places for exploring the fascinating history of our canal systems. Waterfront podcast host David Bramwell pays a visit to this unique attraction – chatting to education officer Cathy Simpson in the back of 1930s butty boat Coronis about the exuberant spending habits of the Prince Regent, before descending into the 30ft diameter ice wells below with curator Martin Sach. Built in 1862 by the famous ice-cream maker Carlo Gatti, the two wells were once capable of storing 900 tonnes of natural ice. Although the primary use of the ice was food preservation, Gatti is best remembered as the man who introduced ice cream to the UK – and one look at the recipe book ‘Mrs Marshall’s Fancy Ices’ in the museum’s archives reveals how the Victorians had a somewhat different taste in ices than we do today! With a mic in one hand and a white chocolate Magnum in the other, David finishes our day out with a boat trip through the Islington Tunnel, London’s longest canal tunnel at 3/4 miles.
London Canal Museum is open 10am-4.30pm, Tues-Sun, adults £4. canalmuseum.org.uk. You can take a guided trip through the Islington Tunnel on the second and forth Sundays of May to October.
Waterfront podcast celebrates the work of the Canal & River Trust, explores the stories behind some of our iconic stretches of water and meets fascinating people who live, work and play beside our waterways. Subscribe to Waterfront on iTunes so you don’t miss the next episode.
Tom Jay, tomjay.com