Visit London Canal Museum

Explore the First Floor


The first floor of the museum offers more detail on some of the themes of the museum. Here you can learn about the history of the London canals, see a large-format map of them, and watch archive film that supports the exhibitions on this floor and explains in 1930s style how a lock works. There are exhibitions entitled Horse Power, Water and Locks, London's Living Waterways, and Boats and Cargoes. There is usually a temporary exhibition to see as well.

View of the first floor showing display stands with model horse in the background

The London's Living Waterways exhibition tells the colourful story of the canals of London to the present day.

View of a detailed map of the waterways showing canalside industry and locks

A large format map of the London waterways shows canalside industry, and features such as locks, but also shows canals that were proposed but never built, and those built but later closed.

View of a large format display panel explaining how canals are man made and differ from rivers

The Water and Locks exhibition includes interactive elements and explains the essentials of canal engineering.

View of a display case

The Boats and Cargoes exhibition includes an exhibit about the cargoes carried by water and a large display case of models of the different types of vessel most commonly seen on the canals of London.

View of a green painted engine with a large flywheel

The first motorised canal boat using an internal combustion engine was seen in the UK in 1911 but modernisation caught on only gradually and in the 1920s and 1930s more and more boats were engine-powered. The Bolinder engine, with its distinctive irregular sound, which you can hear in the museum, was the leading engine of its day and surviving examples in working order are highly prized.

A full-sized model horse in a recreated stable

The Horse Power exhibition includes Henrietta, our full-sized model horse, in her stable. The stable is a recreation of the stables that once filled the room when it was home to a team of ice-cart horses. The bulding never housed canal horses but horse-care had many common elements and we explain some of the issues involved in keeping horses for both the canals and the streets.

Explore the ground floor