A paddle from a lock on the Regent's Canal. This wooden paddle was crucial to the operation of locks, which were in turn crucial to the operation of canals, which were essential to transport before the railways. The paddle is raised and lowered to block or unblock a hole in a lock gate. The hole allows water to flow from the canal into or out of the lock, changing the level of the water inside the lock chamber. By raising and lowering paddles, water levels, and boats, could be raised and lowered and therefore boats could go uphill.
The wooden paddle is one of three on display in the museum, from London's Regent's Canal. The paddles were a small but essential part of the nationwide transport network that was the canal system. A new permanent exhibition about the management of water and the function of locks will be opened at London Canal Museum in the summer of 2010.