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“A Wider Appreciation of the Narrowboat”

National Waterways Museum
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Enjoy a day out by the canal in Cheshire, where time slows down and history comes to life. Designed by the great civil engineer Thomas Telford, the docks at Ellesmere Port were still in use as late as the 1950s. They were a marvellously self-contained world and when you visit the museum today you can still walk around its locks, docks and warehouses and visit its forge, stables and workers cottages. There's so much to explore from the handsome Victorian buildings, which house the museum's fascinating displays, to the locks and moorings, home to colourful historic and visiting narrow boats. With world-class attractions and a year-round events calendar featuring everything from beer festivals to historic boat rallies, there's always a reason to visit. Dog friendly throughout and recently awarded Dog Friendly Business of the Year in the Marketing Cheshire Awards 2018. Entry allows you to return for 12 months.
Reviewed 4 weeks ago

Since my first visit in 1988, the museum has expanded to a remarkable degree.

Today, the site is large and offers a range of attractions. The museum is situated where the Shropshire Union canal used to link into the Manchester Ship Canal, which is close to Eastham Lock, where the latter accesses the River Mersey.

Entrance to the museum from the large car park is through the building that includes the café and shop. The large canal basin that then becomes visible is a reminder of the volume of traffic that once passed through this interchange point between England’s canal network and deep-sea shipping on the Mersey.

By the date of the recent visit at the end of October, trips on the canal had ceased, and unfortunately the archive room was closed by virtue of it being a Saturday.

Nevertheless, there was enough to see to occupy three hours. There are recorded audio-visual presentations of life aboard a horse-drawn working narrowboat, recounted from the memoirs of the boat’s owner and also life as a boat repairer.

The surviving properties that formerly belonged to porters who handled boat loading, have been restored to different eras to illustrate how household life changed over the years.

Overall, an absorbing place to visit at a time when all the facilities are available

Date of experience: October 2018
Thank Masterecho
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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"the cottages"
in 27 reviews
"the manchester ship canal"
in 21 reviews
"narrow boat"
in 20 reviews
"canal trip"
in 13 reviews
"different eras"
in 7 reviews
"cafe on site"
in 10 reviews
"canal basin"
in 6 reviews
"engine room"
in 6 reviews
"industrial revolution"
in 10 reviews
"local history"
in 9 reviews
"interactive displays"
in 8 reviews
"few hours"
in 18 reviews
"interesting place"
in 8 reviews
"interesting visit"
in 6 reviews
"great place to visit"
in 9 reviews
"couple of hours"
in 11 reviews
"on display"
in 7 reviews
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3 - 7 of 445 reviews

Reviewed 4 weeks ago

It was overcast and raining when we visited the National Waterways Museum. Unfortunately we were only in the area for the day, so couldn't wait for better weather, but fortunately there are a lot of indoor exhibits to see. Complimentary loan umbrellas were available, so were able to get around the whole site.
Apart from being a museum, it's also a working part of the canal system, and boats were passing through while we were there. The industrial heritage, including many types of machines, are well maintained and on display in various period buildings. The indoor displays include a huge variety of items, ranging from working boats to cottage interiors.
There are quite a number of period barges and other working boats, moored in the various canal docking areas.
There's a very good restaurant, which was quite a bonus on a wet day. I'm sure we'll revisit this fascinating site of our industrial heritage someday!

Date of experience: September 2018
Thank aramis
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 November 2018

Coming from Birmingham, we know all about canals because we have more miles of it in our city than anywhere else in Britain! But despite the miles of waterway on our own doorstep, some of which have been gentrified and redeveloped as residential areas, we don't have a proper Waterways Museum with a collection of narrowboats anywhere on the scale and layout that this place in Cheshire has.

We decided to visit during a long weekend trip to Liverpool a few months ago back in summer (it's taken me four months to get round to writing a review!) and we weren't disappointed.

We didn't realise that the Manchester Ship Canal passed by and started on the Wirral further downstream at Eastham.... but admiring the displays here and having the chance to get inside some of the barges was a real treat and made me think about how amazing the engineers were back in the day building so many miles of inland waterway to transport goods - before the growth of the railways soon meant the slow decline of canals as a viable form of transport was under way.

I would love to have a canal boat of my own one day back in Birmingham, it's just a case of realising that you need to get rid of your clocks if you are to have any chance of living life at a slower more leisurely place! And I get the feeling that that will be a very tricky thing to have to come to terms with due to the way modern life now puts such extreme demands on us all!

I would recommend anybody give this place a visit and relive the glory days of our canal age!

Date of experience: July 2018
Thank njferguson
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 November 2018

On a recent weekend trip to Chester we called at this site as we enjoy canal boats and their history.
This has got to be the best location to see all aspects of the waterways history of the country.

Date of experience: September 2018
Thank Gaz M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 6 November 2018 via mobile

This is a very interesting museum and I have been visiting it for many years, albeit 4 years since my previous one. It continues to improve and looks much better now that the semi-sunken boats were removed for restoration last year. Cafe is pleasant and reasonably priced, to visit properly takes several hours. As other reviewers have said, the annual pass is great value.

Date of experience: November 2018
Thank William G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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