Station: [19] Canal House

The Canal House is our museum’s smallest, and a rarity – because many museums only show the grand houses. By contrast, the Canal House is evidence of a life lived in poverty. 

In the mid-19th century, these tiny dwellings were very common. The people who lived in them were neither able to learn a proper craft, nor did they have enough farmland to feed themselves. They had to rely on wage labour – in other words, they were day labourers. They trekked to the Allgäu region to bring in the hay, and to the Hallertau region for the hop picking. Some specialised in carving the little crucifixes, making flowers from straw or weaving baskets.  

The Canal House was built in the hamlet of Grillheim in around 1864. It’s named after its location on the embankment – a strip of land 7 meters or 23 feet wide, separating the drainage channel from the road. The canal embankment was provided by the state as cheap building land.

The people who lived in this tiny house were generally families with several children. At one point, that even included a grandfather, who had the chamber on the left for his sole use. As to what it was like living here – we don’t know. The living room was probably furnished with a table and a bench, and a small stove. There wasn’t much room for cupboards, household goods or provisions. The residents slept on sacks of straw under the roof. 

We have not been able to furnish this museum house in keeping with the original. So we’re showing the room on the right “as found” – as period evidence that has come down to us, with all the marks and the old traces of paint on the surfaces. In the hallway, we’ve reconstructed the brick stove with an open fireplace to give an impression of what the “kitchen”of the time would have looked like. And in the room on the left, you’ll find information about the people who lived here, and about the basket-weavers of Grillheim. 

And now? You can look forward to dropping in on our herd of European bison.