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News article created on 29 May 2014

Volunteers help us to create a Museum without Walls

As part of the Trust’s vision to create a museum without walls, we were fortunate when Neil Morley decided to volunteer at the Trust stall during last year’s Crick Boat Show. Neil is an expert walk leader, a blue badge guide and has previously led walks in London.

After a meeting with Dick Vincent – London Towpath Ranger, who is leading on the project, he and another volunteer, Rob Lansdown, produced a script for a walk along the Regent’s Canal.  Within the script are useful tips on how a guide should lead walks along the canal, including essential health and safety advice specific to talking to a crowd in a small space, such as watching out for other towpath visitors or knowing where the nearest toilet is! 

We did a test run for the walk last week on a gorgeous sunny day along with Dick Vincent; it lasted about 3 hours and the time just flew by! Neil certainly has a mind full of information, names and dates collected from a variety of books and other sources.  This knowledge, coupled with his skill as walk leader, meant he brought to life all the 200 years of canal history. He was able to link the canal’s past to its present - from its industrial roots to a place of leisure, business, residence, art, heritage and nature, highlighting the work of the Trust in creating a living waterway.

So what can people gain from participating in one of the walks? They can…

  • Enjoy an interesting stroll beside the canal from Angel to Camden thanks to the Canal and River Trust.
  • See our Industrial Heritage from both canals and railways.
  • Marvel at the engineering and pioneering foresight of our Victorian ancestors.
  • Contemplate the hardships of the workers who hand-dug the canal.
  • Imagine living and bringing up families in a canal-boat cabin barely 6 feet long.
  • View the areas where Victorian London's new railway hubs brought together horses, the canal, the railway, passengers and freight.
  • Be moved by the plight of hundreds of the very poor who lived in a shanty town beside the canal.
  • Be impressed by the plans to redevelop and yet preserve the Granary and 20 historic buildings at Kings Cross.
  • See how modern artists and architects have battled to leave their mark on the canal
  • Understand and appreciate the heritage of the canal that has been adapted for modern use

Walks will held monthly and be free to the public. The first walk starts soon – on 14 June starting at 11am from Angel tube station, with an aim to finish at 2pm in Camden Market (then 19 July, 9 August, 13 September and 11 October). 

Initially lead by Neil, he will later be able to instruct volunteers with an interest in the history of the Regent’s Canal on how to lead walks. Currently we only have one route, but we hope to develop more. For more information on how to get involved or join one of the walks, please contact Dick Vincent.

By Anna Zucchelli, heritage adviser

About this blog

Heritage team

The work carried out by the heritage team is extremely varied, covering all sorts of structures and a wide variety of projects. Not one week is the same and we keep learning all the time, meeting some fascinating people and visiting stunning places along the way. We are hoping that through our blogs we can share some of our passion for the amazing industrial heritage of the inland waterways.

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