Lon­don Canal Mu­seum chair­man Martin Sach praises the boat­ing com­mu­nity

Canal Boat - - Contents -

1 What first at­tracted you to the wa­ter­ways?

It is hard to say for sure, but I do re­mem­ber at school taking part in spon­sored walks to help raise funds for the restora­tion of the Ken­net & Avon. Be­ing a trans­port en­thu­si­ast has al­ways been hard-wired for some rea­son.

2 Which is your favourite water­way?

I don’t re­ally have one favourite but the Grand Junc­tion is near home and the Re­gent’s Canal close to the mu­seum so I’d nom­i­nate those two as joint favourites

3 What do the wa­ter­ways have to of­fer the coun­try?

So many things! His­tory and her­itage, green space, peace and quiet, the coun­try­side, ur­ban beauty, wildlife, and the chance to go boat­ing!

4 How long have you been at the Lon­don Canal Mu­seum

I first joined the team in 1996, when I painted the kitchen. I be­came a trustee a few years later and it has to a large ex­tent taken over my life with­out re­ally be­ing asked!

5 What do you like most about your job?

There is a lot of sat­is­fac­tion in see­ing the mu­seum de­velop and pros­per through a string of projects big and small over the last 20 years that have im­proved it dra­mat­i­cally and given it a more se­cure fu­ture.

6 And is there any­thing you don´t like?

Deal­ings with of­fi­cial­dom can be a frus­trat­ing and dispir­it­ing ex­pe­ri­ence that’s not unique to us. It took a year to get plan­ning con­sent for our new eco-friendly heat­ing sys­tem, for ex­am­ple.

7 What do vis­i­tors like about the mu­seum?

They seem to like most of the var­i­ous ex­hi­bi­tions but what stands out is that they en­joy vis­it­ing the cabin of our re­con­structed butty Coro­nis and see­ing the fab­u­lous ar­chive film that we show in the mu­seum.

8 What is the con­nec­tion with ice?

The building was built around 1863 as an ice warehouse and we have two huge com­mer­cial ice wells be­neath the floor. Ice was car­ried by sea and canal from Nor­way to King’s Cross. This is a story that is lit­tle-known and peo­ple find fas­ci­nat­ing.

9 Tell us about your boat­ing ex­pe­ri­ence...

I don’t get enough time for boat­ing nowa­days, but I once owned a 17ft cruiser in Bris­tol and I oc­ca­sion­ally get to drive the mu­seum’s Ban­tam tug!

10 What is your proud­est achieve­ment?

I think this has to be the fi­nan­cial trans­for­ma­tion of the mu­seum from a large debt to the bank and in­abil­ity to pay the bills, to hav­ing enough to in­vest in mu­seum im­prove­ments and main­tain this his­toric building well. 11 Have you ever fallen in? Once – but only to just above the knee! Like most fallings-in, it hap­pened whilst ma­noeu­vring a boat, in that case our Ban­tam tug.

12 What are you read­ing?

I don’t read books very of­ten – and much of my news read­ing is on­line.

13 Who would be your ideal cruis­ing com­pan­ion?

Can I pick a his­toric char­ac­ter? If so, I’d love to travel along The Re­gent’s with James Mor­gan, the en­gi­neer of the canal who is too lit­tle known and re­spected by his­tory.

14 What´s the best time of day to be on the wa­ter­ways?

Prob­a­bly the fad­ing day­light of a sum­mer’s evening, with a canal­side pub not too far away.

15 What did you want to be aged 12?

A rail­way man­ager. And I was one once, for some 20 years.

16 What other in­ter­ests do you have?

I like see­ing other mu­se­ums of course but I’m also fond of opera and in par­tic­u­lar Gil­bert and Sul­li­van.

17 What do you think of peo­ple on the wa­ter­ways?

We some­times coin the phrase “canal com­mu­nity” and to a large ex­tent there is a com­mu­nity on the canal, in which peo­ple are mostly friendly and help­ful, that’s a nice as­pect of be­ing in­volved in canals.

18 What do you hope to be do­ing when you´re 70?

Well that’s not quite so far in the fu­ture now, I hope I am still fit enough to make a good con­tri­bu­tion to the mu­seum and the canals, if not in all the ways I cur­rently do.

19 Where would your dream cruise be to?

That’s a hard ques­tion as I am not given to dream­ing, but it would have to be some­where with plenty of his­toric in­ter­est.

20 What su­per­power would you most like to have?

This re­ally is dream­ing but if pos­si­ble, I would like to be able to amend some of the laws that gov­ern the canals and busi­nesses such as ours to make life a bit eas­ier!

‘There is a com­mu­nity on the canal, in which peo­ple are mostly friendly and help­ful’ MARTIN SACH

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