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

Discover the museum

The National Waterways Museum actually began life in the 1970s as the North West Museum of Inland Navigation. Although the locals still fondly remember us as The Boat Museum. But you'll discover more than just boats here...

A panoramic view of the National Waterways Museum National Waterways Museum

Back then, a group of enthusiasts passionate about preserving a vanishing way of life (The Boat Museum Society), brought together large collections of boats and all sorts of traditional clothing, painted canalware and tools here, at the historic, seven-acre site of the canal docks at Ellesmere Port.

These collections are now 'Designated', which means that they are recognised as being of national importance.

In 2012 the museum was incorporated to the newly formed Canal & River Trust.

Today, we’re just as passionate about protecting, preserving and promoting the UK’s waterway heritage and identity. Through grants and, critically, your donations, we’re helping to redefine the concept of a museum for the 21st century.

But why Ellesmere Port?

Designed by the great civil engineer Thomas Telford, Ellesmere Port was the largest Inland Waterway dock complex in the UK. Just across the River Mersey from Liverpool, goods were moved from ocean going ships onto narrow boats and barges so they could move relatively swiftly along the canal network.

So important was this link, that the docks were still working right up until the 1950s.

Now a conservation area with 19 Grade II listed buildings, when you visit the museum today you can still walk around its locks, docks and warehouses and visit our forge, stables and workers’ cottages.

There's so much more to explore – from the new augmented reality on the historic slipway to some of the country’s most treasured historic boats. Plus, you can climb aboard our very own trip boat for your own journey along the Shropshire Union Canal.

With world-class attractions and a year-round events calendar featuring everything from the annual Easter Boat Gathering, to Horses at Work and at War and a programme of temporary exhibitions, there's always a reason to come again and again.

Last date edited: 21 April 2017