So, who are Mossdale and George?

An introduction to the life and times of two of the most historically important boats in the National Waterways Museum collection. Meet Mossdale and George…

Mossdale and George are significant boats because there are very few surviving vessels of their kind today. It seems that both these types of boats have become ‘endangered species’ – at high risk of extinction! With the help of Heritage Lottery Fund, we're able to protect and preserve two of the most important vessels from the museum’s collection, to ensure that their history is (in George’s case quite literally) kept afloat.


Mossdale is a wooden Mersey flat built of oak with pitch pine planking. We think she was first recorded as Ruby in 1860. For over forty years, Ruby operated for the Shropshire Union Canal and Railway Company.

In 1921 she was sold to Abel & Sons Ltd who registered her in 1923 under the name of Mossdale. She carried cargoes as diverse as flour, sugar, grain and iron, working on the Bridgewater Canal as far as Manchester and across the Mersey between Ellesmere Port and Liverpool.

In 1971 the National Waterways Museum acquired the vessel as one of the last examples of a Mersey flat. We are thrilled to be given the chance to conserve Mossdale here at Ellesmere Port, and cannot wait to see it happen.


Our other boat George is a Leeds & Liverpool Canal horse-drawn short boat, built in Wigan in 1910. She was built 62ft long to enable her to pass through the short locks on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal.

Although George was registered as a horse-drawn fly boat, she appears to have been employed as a coal carrier between Haigh and Liverpool, sometimes being towed by a steam tug. She also carried sand and coke for the company’s steel works, and ended her career carrying coal on the Bridgewater Canal.

George will be fully restored and will spend at least part of the year on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, so that visitors can climb aboard the boat. We are currently developing ideas for exciting activities to enable people to relive the waterways history whilst on board.


Last date edited: 26 June 2013

About this blog

National Waterways Museum

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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