Travel by boat through Islington tunnel on The Regent's Canal, opened in 1820, and around three quarters of a mile in length. When it first opened boats had to be pushed through by a process of "legging" where men lay on the boat and pushed against the walls with their legs. Our trips are more easily achieved on board one of London's community narrowboats. A guide from the museum offers you a commentary on the history of the tunnel as you cruise through it.
Prices in 2016 were £8.40 adult, £6.00 children, including admission to the museum. The boat trip is not offered on its own without museum admission. Please visit the museum before the boat departs if travelling on the 1500 or 1600 trips.
Departure times from the museum:
The return trip takes just under one hour.In the event of bad weather passengers can travel inside the boat. Most of the trip will however be in the tunnel. A guide will travel with you and he or she will tell you about the history of the tunnel and the canal as you travel. Bookings can be made online, by telephone, or in person at the museum.
The trip is suitable for blind and visually-impaired people, deaf and hearing-impaired people, and those with moderate walking difficulties on all dates. Assistance with boarding is available, but there is no wheelchair lift on the boat. Please contact us to discuss your access needs and we will try to help if we can.
There are 12 places on each trip and early advance booking is very highly reccommended. Bookings are not refundable. It may sometimes be possible to amend a booking, e.g. to transfer it to a different time, if you give us plenty of notice. This can only be requested by e-mail or using our Online Booking Support Form. Please do not telephone asking to change your booking.
The tunnel was largely complete by 1818 and opened in 1820 with a procession of boats carrying dignitaries. The engineer was the canal's engineer James Morgan, and is the major work of his life. Originally it was worked by "legging", which means that men lay on their backs on planks mounted on boats and pushed against the walls or roof of the tunnel to propel the boat. This was necessary because there is no towpath through the tunnel. Later, in 1826, a steam chain tug was introduced. An iron chain rang the whole length of the tunnel and was wound around a drum on board the tug, which was turned by a steam engine. Thus, the tug was pulled along the chain and it could tow several barges behind it. This speeded up traffic considerably. This method of towing boats and barges through the tunnel lasted almost without a break until 1926 by which time diesel tugs were available. The tunnel has lasted well since 1820 and remains in frequent use. You will be able to see the original brickwork and some sections that have been repaired in more recent years. It is 960 yards long and it will take about 20 minutes to pass through it in each direction on your trip. Your guide on the trip will tell you more.
There is more about the history of the tunnel on our page Canal Tunnels of London