Coolcanals: Waterways Directory & Information Guide. Waterside Walks & Cycling, Boating & Holidays in the Waterways Outdoors

[main pic - Heritage boat at National Waterways Museum]

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Canal museums

Find out all about the heritage of Britain's canals. Canal museums are living museums, with collections and displays of fascinating canal artefacts, and jam-packed diaries of events throughout the year for children & adults. Each museum tells its own story of the canals, and collectively they reveal the amazing diversity and breathtaking heritage of the special escape that canals are today, capturing the spirit of Britain's canals past, present and future.

National Waterways Museum

Collection of historic boats, canal artefacts and a national archive
National Waterways Museum A museum, by definition, is meant to be a building where objects of interest are stored and exhibited, but the National Waterways Museum is a magnificent rebel. Its buildings are part of the whole show, and no matter where the eye spins, indoors or outdoors, there's always something extraordinary to see.
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London Canal Museum

The ice well in the heart of the city
London Canal Museum The trick up the sleeve of London Canal Museum is that the building which houses the museum is as fascinating as the collections inside. The building is a former ice house built in 1862-3 for the business of the famous ice-cream maker, Carlo Gatti. Inside this historic building, old London tells its intriguing story. This is a London museum, built gloriously in London coloured bricks, with a focus on London's powerful waterways heritage, and displayed within the context of canals across the country. London Canal Museum is a real treasure tucked cosily away right in the city, and open for the world to visit. (Click Here To Buy London Map)
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Stoke Bruerne Museum

A canal village and its museum
Stoke Bruerne Museum The thatched village of Stoke Bruerne and its small museum are inseparable attractions in a canal hub that is full to the brim with living heritage. Landlubbers and boaters stand around chatting and hives of gongoozlers buzz over the lock to watch narrowboats that pass through the heart of the village. The village is over 1,000 years old, but the canal didn't arrive until 1793. When navvies turned up with their shovels, they hacked the route of the water road, cutting through the village to create the shape of Stoke Bruerne that is much loved today. There's a calendar of festivals, events and activities that don't just keep the hub busy, but also help keep waterways heritage alive.
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Gloucester Waterways Museum

In a waterside warehouse
Gloucester Waterways Museum Trade was at its peak with the arrival of the canal and the newly built docks at Gloucester were handling exports and imports from around the world, with grain and timber as the bulk. Huge warehouses were built to store cargo; some have survived and are protected in their full glory today. Llanthony Warehouse has become the home of Gloucester Waterways Museum. This canal museum is imaginative and refreshingly visitor friendly, and a must-see treasure in its own right.
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The BoilerHouse

Foxton Inclined Plane and its museum
Foxton Canal Museum Old tracks creak from the grassy hill through the rubble of history. Foxton Inclined Plane once lifted boats from the canal at the bottom of the hill, and hauled them over dry land to the water at the higher level. The inclined plane lifted the boats in a fraction of the time that it took to work through the 10-lock staircase. But after just 10 years in service, in 1911, the plane was deemed too expensive to maintain and was abandoned. Plans are afoot to reopen the lift, and Foxton Inclined Plane Trust who are behind the restoration, have their headquarters in the old lift's boiler house, running the small museum too. The BoilerHouse tells the story of the lift, Foxton Locks and associated waterways.
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