Group and Tour Guides

Guiding Groups, Walks, and Boat Trips


We offer public tunnel boat trips during the summer months, for which guides are required to explain the history of the tunnel and the canal to our visitors. We provide guided towpath walks, occasionally on a scheduled basis but mainly for pre-booked groups. we provide in-museum short talks for larger pre-booked groups and some groups require a more specialist talk.

Tunnel Boat Trip Guides

A volunteer guide aboard. Tables and chairs to her right and leftWe have purchased a trip boat, called Long Tom, jointly with another charity, which will allow us to extend our popular Islington Tunnel boat trip offering. We are looking for enthusiastic and reliable volunteers to serve as boat guides on Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays between April and October, with the potential for additional trips outside of this timeframe.

Every trip is accompanied by a guide from the museum. Skippers are managed by our partners at the Angel Community Canalboat Association.

The role of the guide is:

Volunteer guide stands on stern of boat, other boats in backgroundThe standard Islington Tunnel trip lasts roughly 50 minutes.

The schedule for boat trips is as follows:

Shifts vary in hours with days being split between a morning and afternoon guide.

Cream Tea Guides

A small number of guides will have a dual role as guides and also serving cream teas to the passengers on Friday afternoons. These are longer trips and a simple cream tea will be offered on the outward journey with a historical commentary on the return. Food hygiene training will be involved in addition to the training for all guides.

Walking Tour Guides

We provide guided towpath walks to groups who are visiting the museum. We are looking for more people who could undertake such guide work. A general knowledge of canals is needed, or a willingness to read up on the subject, as well as to learn the specific information that needs to be imparted to visitors. You need a confident personality, to enjoy working with people and to have the ability to put across historical information in an entertaining way. These events are a mix of entertainment and adult education and the guide has to balance those things. We can training if you have the ability to talk to a group of people.

Leading a walk takes from 2 hours to 4 hours, depending on the audience and the destination. We don't expect you to always be available for every towpath walk or tunnel trip we offer but you will be someone the Volunteering and Training Manager can call upon from time to time.

Group Guides

Groups of more than 20 people are offered an introductory talk when they arrive at the museum. This talk covers a brief history of the museum building, and something about the exhibitions and the history of London's canals. Normally this is not a detailed presentation but a simple introduction to the museum and its exhibits, after which the group visits at leisure and the guide is available for questions. The role may also involve making tea and coffee for a group after the talk.

What Commitment is required?

The boat trips operate on Thursdays Fridays and Sundays from Easter to October, with a possibility of some trips in December on a seasonal theme. You would be expected to do up to four trips on any one day, but there is flexibility here and the work is shared between several people. Generally the same people do all of these similar, related tasks, i.e. group guides, towpath walking tour guide, and tunnel boat trip guide, as they all involve a similar set of skills. The rota is tailored to the time you can offer so do talk to us!

Groups come on all days of the week, (except Mondays when the museum is not open). The times of arrival for groups are very variable and they are nearly always during the daytime, as are all the towpath walking tours. A volunteer guide will usually be in for about two hours when a group is expected, to help set up the refreshments, ensure they are at the museum in time for the arrival of the group and clear up once the refreshments are finished. We don't expect you to always be available for every group, but to be a person our Volunteering and Training Manager can call upon from time to time to be a welcoming presence during the actual visit. If you can serve coffee and talk about history at the same time, you could be the person we want to talk to!

Training will be provided in following areas:

To be successful in the guide roles you will need to be:

You will also ideally have (although not essential):

What could you get out of volunteering with us>

Back to top