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News article created on 17 December 2015

Award success for National Waterways Museum

We are delighted to announce that the National Waterways Museum, Ellesmere Port has been awarded the prestigious Sandford Award for its excellent education programme. The award was received at a recent award ceremony on 4 December at the London Transport Museum.

Colourful National Waterways Museum boat with traditional decoration National Waterways Museum boat with traditional decoration

The Sandford Award is an independently judged, quality assured assessment of education programmes at heritage sites, museums, archives and collections across the British Isles.

The judge was impressed by the learning programme on offer and worthy of commendation by the award scheme.  On a recent visit to the museum the judge observed an education session with learning experiences tied closely to the National Curriculum Key Stages 1 and 2.

The judge found the museum a great asset to the schools in the surrounding area and further afield and said: “The National Waterways Museum provides an excellent insight into the lives of people employed on the canals.  Thanks to a group of dedicated volunteers, the site was reopened as a museum in the 1970s and is attracting visitors of all ages as well as school groups, who are able to fulfil aspects of the National Curriculum whilst thoroughly enjoying the experience.”

Bringing the story of waterways to life

The education sessions are run by experienced Canal & River Explorers volunteers who bring the story of waterways to life through learning.  The programmes link with English, Maths, Science, Design and Technology, Arts, Geography and History. 

Foxton Locks on the Grand Union Canal and Bingley Five Rise on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal join the National Waterways Museum in receiving this prestigious award.  The Explorers team of staff and volunteers recognise that each canal, river and heritage site is unique and offers powerful ways to engage pupils and bring learning to life. All the resources, lesson plans and activities on offer through Canal & River Explorers are developed in partnership with teachers and education consultants.

Helen Evans, Education Coordinator at the National Waterways Museum, said; “We entered three locations to give a sample of the types of places at which we deliver learning programmes - and we are very pleased that all three sites won the award.

A common thread throughout the judging reports is the fantastic work of our education volunteers.  The award will help us to encourage more schools to visits and along with the Learning Outside the Classroom Quality Badge we received earlier in the year, we are now able to demonstrate high quality safe learning in an exciting and inspirational environment - the essential elements of any school visit.”


The museum is looking to expand the current volunteer team. This volunteer opportunity will be supporting to deliver interactive learning sessions to children in schools and at the museum, to visit uniformed groups, such as Cub Scouts, to give talks, lead interactive sessions and to provide activities at museum events.

Anyone wishing to find out more should contact helen.evans@canalrivertrust.org.uk or samantha.marine@canalrivertrust.org.uk