Monday, 27 February 2012

Fancy a Happy Easter at Ellesmere Port?

Nb: Ferret. Image credit: The National Waterways Museum


The National Waterways Museum covers a seven acre site that was once a busy canal dock at Ellesmere Port, in Cheshire. The indoor displays are housed in charming Victorian buildings and while there are some boats inside, the majority of historical boats are outside in the canal docks. The docks were still in use in the 1950s, and today you can walk around the locks and warehouses and see the forge, stables and workers cottages. When I think of the heritage of the inland waterways I think of the traditional working narrowboats, but at this museum you can also see a 1,000 year old log boat, a concrete barge, a coracle and a steam powered dredger. At The Heritage Boatyard a dedicated team of volunteers and young trainees work to maintain and restore these historical boats. Several of the boats are listed on the Historic Boat Register.

The indoor exhibitions tell the story of Britain’s canals and waterways and the Inland Waterways collection is designated as being of national and international importance.

The Waterways Archive holds a fascinating collection of boat building plans, working records, accounts and letters. There are photographs by Robert Aickman, Michael Ware and Eric de Mare.

The museum also holds the archives of British Waterways and the early canal companies, a rich source of information, some of it dating back to the 17th century. I would love to engross myself in this archive and their books and periodicals about canal history: Access can be arranged by booking at least 24 hours in advance.

I’d also like to explore inside the motor narrowboat Ferret and imagine the lives of the boat families that once lived within. She was built by WJ Yarwoods of Northwich in 1926 and worked as part of a Fellows, Morton and Clayton pair on the Birmingham Canal Navigations.

If you share my enthusiasm for the history of the waterways you may enjoy the Nantwich to Chester cruise on Snipe and Taurus this Easter. The museum at Ellesmere port is just one of the places the hotel boats will visit. Imagine finishing your day being tucked up in your own charming narrowboat cabin dreaming of bygone days.

Read more: Nantwich to Chester via Ellesmere Port Boat Museum

Stop Press: Join British Waterways at the museum on Sunday 4 March for a unique behind the scenes look at the locks. British Waterways teams will lead tours around the works, answering your questions about how lock gates are hand-crafted.


Disclosure: I wrote this post for Canal Voyagers Hotel Boats.
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