We love and care for your canals and rivers, because everyone deserves a place to escape.

The Gloucester Waterways Museum has been awarded a further grant of £994,000 to refurbish its displays, create a new entrance to the warehouse building and adapt the Sabrina 5 barge to provide a new space for events and education.

An artist's impression of the new Gloucester Waterways Museum An artist's impression of the new Gloucester Waterways Museum

The project will celebrate the strategic importance of the Docks and the natural and manmade waterways associated with the Southwest and the Midlands. These waterways enabled cargoes to move in and out of the region and around the world. The warehouses, the boats and the people involved in this major operation will feature strongly in our displays.

Museum Displays

The collection is part of the whole Canal & River Trust collection, based at a number of museums and attractions in our care. The National Waterways Museum in Ellesmere Port is the main museum for learning about the development of canals in Britain. Gloucester museum’s collection has lost some of the rationale in the way it is presented, partly due to the site changing from being the national museum in the early 2000s.

Llanthony Warehouse

One of many warehouses at the Docks built to a regulated design, Llanthony Warehouse was constructed in 1873. Built of brick, with a slate roof, wooden floors and cast-iron columns, the building was designed for the purpose of storing sacks of grain.  Winches in the roof and loading doors on each floor, enabled the grain sacks to be lifted from ground level to any one of the six floors above.   

The building was later occupied by builders’ merchants and then in 1988 it was transformed into the National Waterways Museum on the lower three floors and provided office space and archives above. 

One of the characteristics of the warehouses, generally, is rather small windows (these were for ventilation rather than light) - they are one of the things that make the building seem a bit uninviting.  To try and counteract this we will have a new glazed entrance space, so we are more visible to passers-by, which will contain introductory information about the museum, docks trail and boat trips.

Sabrina 5

Sabrina 5 is a barge, built in 1944, for the Ministry of War Transport, to move a variety of cargoes.  She is rather a young exhibit in the museum collection, but don’t let her think she is only a minor celebrity. She is part of the National Historic Fleet, putting her in the same league as the Cutty Sark and HMS Victory. Sabrina 5 was one of six boats, made for the purpose of carrying imports on the Severn and the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal. She relied on a tug because she has no engine.  Her large hold took 130-150 tonnes of goods, principally metals and foodstuffs.

Sabrina 5 has lost her original purpose, but through careful design we will be able to give her a new lease of life.  Her hold is a good size, so we intend making her a useful space for events and learning.  Access is going to be a challenge, so we will seek advice and guidance from a number of sources.


Last date edited: 27 July 2016