In the early years of the canal boom, the cargo-carrying narrow boats were operated by teams of men, who left their wives and children at home. After the advent of the railways, economic conditions became much more difficult, and the boats had to charge much lower prices to compete against the railways. Because the boat owners could not pay their men so much money, many families had to leave their rented houses, and live full time in the small cabins of the boats
150 years ago, there were no fridges or freezers, and it was extremely difficult to keep ice, or ice cream, cold. Born in 1817 in the Italian speaking part of Switzerland, Carlo Gatti came to London in 1847, and opened a succession of food stalls and restaurants selling cakes, chocolate, and ice cream. The shortage of ice was always a problem, and soon Gatti had made enough money to invest in importing bulk ice from Norway instead. He built the warehouse which houses the London Canal Museum today, and constructed the first of two huge wells in which to store the ice. It was sold from carts which carried it around London.