As part of the initial support, the museum has been granted £60,700 to develop a project celebrating Gloucester Docks' contribution to the nation. If successful the project will bring in almost £1million of lottery money to the museum. The initiative has been led by staff at the Canal & River Trust, and is backed by the Friends of Gloucester Waterways Museum.
The project, called ‘From Birmingham to the Sea', will see the museum change its displays to tell the story of the River Severn and the canals from Sharpness to Birmingham. Gloucester's role in supporting the industrial revolution in Birmingham will be a major part of the new story, and will fit alongside the existing displays about life on the canals. The work will also totally upgrade the learning experience at the museum and, importantly, fully refit one of the museum's heritage boats to make it a learning and exhibition venue.
Museum manager, Doreen Davies, said: “We're delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has shown this confidence in Gloucester Waterways Museum. The docks themselves were a vital link between the industrial heartland of Britain and the world.
“Unlike most canals of the time, ours was a ship canal with links to exotic parts of the world. Telling this story will extend the reach of the museum and bring our local heritage alive.”
Debbie Lumb, head of Museums and Attractions at the Canal & River Trust, said: “Gloucester Waterways Museum is a great museum in an atmospheric location. Today's announcement by the HLF is a real vote of confidence and we're hopeful that if we get our second phase funding confirmed that we'll be able to make these important changes to the museum. These will be the first real changes to the story at the museum for many years and our staff and volunteers are over the moon!”
The museum has been housed in the magnificent Llanthony Warehouse at Gloucester Docks since it was opened in 1988. It receives around 25,000 visitors a year who come to learn about the history of the canals and rivers of Gloucester and take a 45 minute boat trip on the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal with commentary or book a longer trip on the River Severn.