Nine things not to miss at the museum

There's a whole host of activities to experience at the museum, and with your annual pass you can enjoy them for free. Here's what's on at the moment...

National Waterways Museum across the basin National Waterways Museum across the basin

Designed by the great civil engineer Thomas Telford, Ellesmere Port was the largest Inland Waterway dock complex in the UK. Look out across the River Mersey to Liverpool, and that’s where goods were moved from ocean going ships onto narrow boats and barges so they could move relatively swiftly along the canal network.

This year the museum celebrates 45 years since it was saved by the volunteers in the 1970s. Here's a list of the things not to miss at the museum when you visit.

1. Time travel

Windows on the world at National Waterways Museum

With the help of 21st century technology we’re bringing Ellesmere Port’s 19th century history to life. Through this augmented reality, the people that lived and worked in the port return to tell their stories. Download the app search National Waterways Museum in either the App Store or Play Store.

2. Power

Working in the pump house

The Power Hall is packed full of engines, all themed around water. Each engine was originally used to move water or drive things through it; or used water (hydraulic engines), or steam to drive boat engines. 

The engines are looked after by our museum volunteers and you can usually find them in the Power Hall and they will be happy to talk to you about their work.

Look out for the the Yarwood steam engine. This engine used to power the weaver packet boat Davenham on her regular travels bringing soda ash from Winnington Works to Birkenhead or Liverpool for chemical company ICI. Davenham's journey used to take her down the Weaver Navigation, onto the Manchester Ship Canal and then to the Mersey. Today you can power up her Yarwood engine though she won't be going anywhere!

3. Boats of every description

Interactive at the museum

Voyage into the virtual past, present and future of the waterways on the huge interactive wall located in the Island Warehouse Exhibition Hall.

4. Take the icebreaker challenge

Find out what an icebreaker did and test your skill as a boater by having a go on the digital icebreaker. See how much ice you can break before time runs out.

5. Wellbeing on our doorstepPhoto of National Waterways Museum at Ellesmere Port

Find somewhere beautiful to relax, think, exercise, picnic, and more whilst you’re here.

6. The QR Audio Trail 

As you explore the museum you can scan the QR codes at various locations to find out more. The QR codes can be read on your phone using one of the many free QR reader apps available. iPhones will read the codes automatically from the camera app. The locations can be accessed in any order or you can follow the directions between points if you want to use them as the basis of a guided tour of the museum.

7. Where history comes alive

Photo of Porters Row Cottages, Ellesmere Port

Our customer research tells us that Porters Row is the most popular part of the entire site. This is in fact, the oldest row of cottages in the town of Ellesmere Port. Don’t go home without a quick peep.

8. Let's Play

New play area at the National Waterways Museum Ellesmere Port

A canal themed outdoor play area 'Blue Belle' in the grounds at the museum for the Under 12's to enjoy.

9. Temporary Exhibitions

A series of temporary exhibitions are being planned, details of which will be publicised here.  The above photograph shows an example of our last exhibition displaying the work of Threadmill who chose to reflect the flow of water around Ellesmere Port and the continuous Ebb and Flow of Life that was on display until the beginning of January 2022.


We're following government guidelines and are making some changes to make sure that everyone who visits, works and volunteers in and around our museums and attractions can enjoy their day safely.

You can find out more in our frequently asked questions, but if there is anything else you would like to know before your visit, please do get in touch.

Last date edited: 24 January 2022