EP Boat Museum

Crane at the Boat Museum

The Ellesmere Port site of the National Waterways Museum is situated at the northern extremity of the Shropshire Union Canal where it enters the Manchester Ship Canal at Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, England (grid reference SJ406771). It contains the largest collection of canal boats in the world.[1]


The site consisted formerly of a canal port which covered an area of 7 acres (3 ha) which initially linked the Shropshire Union Canal with the River Mersey. It was designed by Thomas Telford under the direction of William Jessop and continued to function as a working canal port until the 1950s. The canal port consisted of a system of locks, docks and warehouses, together with a pump and engine room.[2] A toll house was built in 1805.[3] The Island Warehouse was built in 1871 to store grain.[4]

The main warehouse building on the main dock at the port burned down and has been replaced with waterside apartments and a hotel in the 1990s


The museum covers the area of the previous canal port and contains all the elements previously present in the port, including the locks, docks and warehouses. The Island Warehouse now includes an exhibition on the history of boat-building and, on the upper level, another exhibition which describes the social history of canals, and a soft-play area.[4] The Pump House contains the steam-driven pumping engines which supplied power for the hydraulic cranes and the capstans which were used around the dock,[5] and the "Power Hall" contains a variety of other engines.[6] The blacksmith's forge was where the ironwork for the canal and its boats was made. A resident blacksmith works in the forge.[7] The stables which housed the horses and pigs are still present.[8] The former toll house hosts temporary and touring exhibitions.[3] In the museum the Waterways Archive contains a wide range of material relating to waterways in Britain and abroad.[9] The site contains a terrace of four houses known as Porter's Row. There were dock workers' cottages which have been decorated and furnished to represent different periods from the 1840s to the 1950s.[10] The museum contains a collection of historic boats.[11] Some have been restored but others are slowly rotting-away as they await there turn to be rebuilt. A number of diffrent types of boat are represented in the collection. which includes work boats and a rare concrete barge. Short boat trips along the Shropshire Union Canal are arranged.[12]

The modern entrance area to the museum includes a café and a shop.[13] The museum is open throughout the year, and hosts some special events.[14]

The locks within the museum site are designated by English Heritage as a Grade II listed building.[15] Also listed Grade II are the lighthouse at the entry of the canal into the Mersey,[16] and a lock keeper's hut.[17]

In 2010, the museum was one of three featured on the BBC Four series Behind the Scenes at the Museum.[18]

Power houseEdit

The power house building house a range of boat and stationary engines associated with canals. The display numbers about 30 engines of several well known makers and a few obscure ones.

Boat collectionEdit

  • Dreger with Priestman crane
  • A Concrete barge - built in WWII
  • Coal barges
  • Butty boats
  • wooden and steel hulled narrowboats
  • barges
  • pleasure boats from the 1950 & 60s

Vehicles and machineryEdit

See alsoEdit


External linksEdit

Template:Waterways museums

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Coordinates: 53°17′17″N 2°53′31″W / 53.288°N 2.892°W / 53.288; -2.892

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