Here at the National Waterways Museum, we’re eagerly anticipating the restoration of Ellesmere Port’s historic slipway as part of our Window on the World project. With the help of Heritage Lottery Fund, we’ll be able to open up the slipway area to our visitors for the first time ever.
Interestingly, this disused area is recognised as a ‘heritage asset’ which contributes to the historic interest and character of the site - yet we have never been able to provide visitors with access to the slipway here at the museum. If our Window on the World plans are fully realised, we’ll be able to offer visitors the opportunity to explore what was once a major part of a fully working Port.
You’ll be able to have a nosy in the historic buildings on the site, such as the Winch House, the foreman’s office and the workshops – which will be restored to look as though you’ve gone back in time as you enter each building. You’ll also get the chance to learn about the slipway when it was in operation. It provided a vital facility for the construction and repair of vessels.
The non-tidal slipway was fully mechanised, with boats being hauled up the slipway for repair on a trolley – this was known as ‘Mr Morton’s Patent Carriage’. They were pulled by means of a cable attached to a steam-powered drum in the Winch House.
Another significant aspect of the slipway area is that traces of the Second World War era can be seen, with the remains of an Anderson air raid shelter. This was erected to provide protection from air raids for the dock workers during those tumultuous years.
By restoring the slipway, we can finally unveil the spectacular views overlooking the Mersey and the Manchester Ship Canal, as well as create an area bursting with interactive activities for all to enjoy, and fun-packed learning and education opportunities for our younger visitors.
We want there to be something for everyone to enjoy here at the National Waterways Museum – not just for history buffs! We’re hopeful that reopening the slipway will take us one step closer to accomplishing this aspiring objective.
The National Waterways Museum is home to the most comprehensive collection of artefacts that tell the story of Britain’s canals and navigable rivers over the last 300 years. With sites at Ellesmere Port and Gloucester, the museum holds over 12,000 historic objects and 68 historic boats and is designated by the Arts Council England as of national importance. The National Waterways Museum Ellesmere Port is also home to the Waterways Archive including over 100,000 papers, drawings photographs, plans and books relating to the waterways – a vital part of our national cultural heritage.
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