One of my favourite topics to write or talk about is what a great resource the English canals and rivers are for families. Whether it’s used for walking, boating or living on, our canal network is a way for children to enjoy getting closer to nature and may even inspire young people to become interested in history.

Both of my children were born on a narrowboat and we lived on board as a family for six years. I wrote a personal blog about our adventures while we travelled and a free e-book about life afloat, called Narrowboat Families. So the London Canal Museum recently contacted me about their new oral history project: Children living afloat.

The London Canal Museum is the capital’s only inland waterways museum dedicated to telling the fascinating story of London's canals and those who lived and worked on them. As part of the educational work at the museum they would like to interview children living on boats and use the interviews for school visits and at the museum for individual children visiting.

They already have some amazing old interviews from people who grew up on boats in the 1950s and 60s. You can listen to these in a feature on “life on board” at the London Canal Museum website.

To bring the story up to date they would like to find some children who live on boats on the canals in London now who would be happy to be interviewed and recorded talking about their everyday lives. This could really help modern children to understand more about life afloat. I think this a great idea as day to day life on canal and narrowboats is still quite a mystery to many people.

The recordings will be used in the museum’s educational work with school groups and will also form part of the archive which can be used for future research, exhibitions and publications.

As we no longer live in London I was unable to volunteer my children to be interviewed. But if you are interested in taking part in this fascinating history project please get in contact with the museum by emailing jane@

If you are interested in living on a canal boat yourself you may like our free eBook Living on a Boat: The Boatshed Guide which covers all practicalities, including living aboard with children.

Image credit: Copyright 2012


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