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The charity making life better by water

Access at the National Waterways Museum

Everyone deserves to get the best possible experience at our museum on a day out. Here's how we're making it more accessible.

National Waterways Museum Ellesmere Port

The museum covers a 7.5 acre site with both indoor and outdoor exhibitions, some housed in listed buildings. The site is based on the working transhipment docks and the surfaces are uneven in places.

Getting here

By train – the nearest train station is Ellesmere Port. It's on the Liverpool to Ellesmere Port line via Birkenhead and Hooton and connects to Chester. The station is 0.7 miles away – a 15 minute walk along pavements and passes through a subway under the M53. See Cheshire by Train for more details.

By bus – Ellesmere Port bus station is 1.1 miles away – a 25 minute walk along pavements and passes through a subway under the M53. Local buses stop at nearer points – for more information, call Traveline: 0871 200 2233.

By bike – the towpath alongside the Shropshire Union Canal runs right up to the museum. There is a bike rack facility available outside the museum.

By boat – follow the Shropshire Union Canal all the way to the museum. We have some visitor moorings available in the docks.

By road – The museum's postcode is CH65 4FW. Follow the local brown signs for Boat Museum. Once you have come off the M53 roundabout onto Oil Sites Road, look for the National Waterways Museum sign on the left-hand side and turn left into South Pier Road. The entrance to the car park is on the right-hand side opposite the museum entrance.

Car parking

Our large visitor car park is opposite the main building with accessible bays marked with level access to the main doorway.


Inside the main entrance doorway is an atrium with an accessible toilet and baby facilities.

Reception desk

For those visitors who need a carer, the museum provides the carer with free admission.

A map is provided to each visitor – this map shows the more friendly push-chair/wheelchair friendly route around the site.

The museum generally has two manual wheelchairs available on a first come, first served basis – please ask at reception. If it's essential to your visit that you have one of these wheelchairs, please call ahead to check availability and, if available, book it for your visit.

Getting around the museum buildings

It's a good idea to start your visit at the slipway. The route is down the side of the building and has an initial gradient of 1:12 (8%). The path is edged by a wall either side. A short distance then of 1:20 (5%) towards the boat horse sculpture positioned on grass.

The ground towards the slipway is a composite resin flooring and reasonably level.

Superintendent's Office

Access to the Superintendent's office is by two steps – 10cms rise onto engineering brick and 14cms rise onto the wooden flooring. The door width is 70cms and there is little turning space inside.

Education centre

The education centre is available for schools to use and is often open on events days for craft activities. There's a lip at the doorway but there are ramps in place.

Pattern Shop

Access to the Pattern shop, which houses the “40 Years on…the making of our museum” exhibition, is accessed by two steps edged white. A portable ramp is available.

Looking down the locks

There is a very steep slow down by the locks.

Crossing the locks at the National Waterways Museum

Upstairs in the Island Warehouse

Access to the upper floor exhibition is by either a staircase or the visitor lift.

The wide staircase (width 122cms) has hand rails on both sides and clear delineation to distinguish the edges of the stairs together with safety strips on the treads of stairs. There are 12 steps on the first staircase and 10 steps on the second part with a rise of 18cms.

Toilets in the Island Warehouse

On this floor there is a separate baby changing facility, and accessible toilet.

Accessing the Porters Row Cottages

There are two steps down to access the cottages.

Rolt Conference Centre toilets

After passing through the glass doors, there are four steps to the right-hand side that lead down to a set of ladies' toilets and a set of men's toilets.

Archives and reading room

Access to the main area of the room is via four steps. Archives staff will be happy to help should you need level access.

Once inside the conference centre there is a wheelchair accessible lift to the upper floor. The lift has side adjacent opening doors. There are also stairs to the upper floors.


The theatre is accessed by a series of seven steps which converts into a stair lift. The theatre has no natural lighting and has a wooden floor.

Tell us more

If there are areas which you think would be useful to include in this guide, please contact the museum on 0151 355 5017 or email at [email protected]

Last Edited: 07 September 2023

photo of a location on the canals
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