New exhibition from Islington Museum celebrates two centuries of the Regent’s Canal: Thornhill Bridge from Islington Tunnel, 1973. Credit: Islington Local History Centre

27 Jul 2020

New exhibition from Islington Museum celebrates two centuries of the Regent’s Canal

Barging Through Islington: 200 Years of the Regent's Canal is the new digital exhibition from Islington Museum celebrating the bicentenary of the canal’s opening on 1 August 2020.

Once providing an essential transport route for industry, many Islington businesses relied on the Regent's Canal for the supply of materials for one and a half centuries. Since the 1970's, the canal has transcended its industrial purpose and become a place of leisure and enjoyment. Barging Through Islington highlights the key developments on and around Regent’s Canal over its two-century history.

Islington is no stranger to water, both natural and man-made. For centuries, the River Fleet flowed south through Clerkenwell towards the Thames and the area’s springs have provided drinking water and entertainment; Sadler’s Wells (1683) continues to be living example. The stunning 17th-century engineering feat that is the New River brought fresh drinking water to the City of London from Hertfordshire, via Islington, and still supplies London with much of its water. However, 200 hundred-years-ago a new water feature appeared; the Regent’s Canal, which wound its way from Paddington to the Thames at Limehouse and through Islington between King’s Cross and Shoreditch.

In Barging Through Islington: 200 Years of the Regent's Canal, discover how the canal was built, how the ice industry the canal supported brought ice cream to the masses in London, and how Hollywood arrived on the canal via the Gainsborough Studios. Compare key points of the Regent’s Canal through historic photographs and take part in an interactive tour and quiz.

Cllr Asima Shaikh, Executive Member for Inclusive Economy and Jobs and the council’s lead on libraries and heritage, said:

“The Regent’s Canal is a hugely historic waterway of vital economic and cultural importance to the borough and this innovative exhibition does a brilliant job of telling its story.

“As the coronavirus pandemic continues to affect our lives and our access to cultural resources, I have been hugely proud of the way our Museum and Local History Centre have continued to produce interesting, informative online exhibitions that people can enjoy from the comfort of their own home. I encourage all local residents to get online and check out this new exhibition and take a trip throughout history along the Canal!”

The digital exhibition has been produced in conjunction with Regent’s Canal Heritage.

Barging Through Islington: 200 Years of the Regent's Canal
27 July – 26 September 2020

Regent's Canal, by Shepherd, 1822. Credit: Islington Local History Centre

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