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

A brief history of the National Waterways Museum

The National Waterways Museum began life in the 1970s as the North West Museum of Inland Navigation, later The Boat Museum.

From the beginning, and thanks to the support of the then Ellesmere Port and Neston Borough Council, the museum was based in the historic canal docks at Ellesmere Port.

Started by a group of enthusiasts passionate to preserve a vanishing way of life (The Boat Museum Society), large collections of boats and other items such as traditional clothing, painted canalware and tools were bought together. These collections are now 'Designated', which means that they are recognised as being of national importance.

The Boat Museum Society

In the 1990s The Waterways Trust took on the management of the National Waterways Museum. Funding from Heritage Lottery Fund helped create new displays and improve visitor facilities. In 2012 The Waterways Trust was incorporated to the Canal & River Trust.

Like many of the museums that grew out of the mania for collecting of the 1960s and 70s, the National Waterways Museum experienced a decline in visitor numbers in the early years of the new Millennium - however the last couple of years has seen a 27% rise in visitors and record numbers attending special event days.

The Canal & River Trust

Today though, the museum looks to the future with a new confidence and optimism and is helping to redefine the concept of a museum for the 21st century. At the heart of its community, the Museum works in partnership with many organisations locally and nationally and enjoys the support of some two hundred volunteers.


Last date edited: 8 February 2016