The HLF supported project will allow the museum to make much more of the significance and uniqueness of the River Severn and Gloucester & Sharpness Canal as well as emphasising the strategic role Gloucester Docks and the local canal network had in transporting goods to the industrial Midlands.
The funding will allow the historic museum, based in a former Victorian warehouse at the heart of the Docks, to install a new inviting visitor entrance, fresh and exciting new galleries on the ground and first floor and a modern gift shop, which will sell heritage-styled canalware and other waterways gifts.
Sabrina 5, a 90-foot long cargo barge, moored at Gloucester Waterways Museum, will also be given a new lease of life as a floating learning space to teach families and youngsters more about England's canals and rivers.
Built in 1944 for the Ministry of War Transport, the barge is part of the National Historic Fleet and, alongside the Cutty Sark and HMS Victory, among 200 historic boats considered nationally or regionally significant in the UK.
Pop-up museums around Gloucester
The HLF revitalisation project will begin early in 2015 and it is expected that the museum will be closed to the public from autumn 2015 until spring 2016 for galleries to be remodelled and improved. During that time museum staff intend to establish pop-up museums around Gloucester to reach out to new audiences and maintain relationships with the thousands of local families who visit the museum each year.
Canal & River Trust, Chief Executive Richard Parry, said: “We're delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded this grant. Gloucester Waterways Museum is of national importance and, at the heart of Gloucester Docks, it is a natural focal point for people visiting the area. As well as re-vitalising the museum, this grant will enhance our educational programme, and bring the history of the waterways alive.”
Bring history to life
Nerys Watts, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund South West, said: “This project will see the rejuvenated museum dramatically upgrade its displays and exhibitions, improve its visitor offer and, for the first time, fully tell the story of the River Severn, the canals from Sharpness to Birmingham and Gloucester's important role in supporting the industrial revolution in the Midlands. We are delighted that this project will make even more people aware of this wonderful place and its historic significance.”
The museum tells the story of our canals and rivers. Visitors can climb aboard historic boats, enjoy hands-on fun, watch archive films and browse galleries rich in canal heritage.