The National Waterways Museum holds the inland waterways collection at three museum sites in England: Gloucester, Ellesmere Port, and Stoke Bruerne.

The museum is operated by The Waterways Trust and receives sponsorship from British Waterways. It is concerned with Britain's navigable inland waterways, including rivers and canals. It is an Anchor Point of ERIH, The European Route of Industrial Heritage.

National Waterways Museum

Gloucester Waterways Museum Gloucester

National Waterways Museum, Cheshire -2

National Waterways Museum Ellesmere Port

The original National Waterways Museum at Gloucester, now known as Gloucester Waterways Museum, is housed in a Victorian warehouse at Gloucester Docks, in the city of Gloucester. It has a collection of boats including narrowboats, river barges, canal and river tugs, and a steam powered dredger. There is also a steam crane and heavy oil engine in the setting of a canal repair yard, complete with working machine shop, forge and weighbridge. The museum uses modern interactive techniques and hands on exhibits. In the Summer of 2010 the Gloucester site lost its national status and was renamed the 'Gloucester Waterways Museum.[1]

The National Waterways Museum, Ellesmere Port, South Pier Road, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, and the Canal Museum (Stoke Bruerne Canal Museum), Stoke Bruerne, Towcester, Northamptonshire remain linked as part of the National Waterways Museum. Only the museum site at Ellesmere Port is now branded as the National Waterways Museum.

National Water Ways museum Ellesmere port - sunk barges - IMG 1086

Sunken barges at Ellesmere port

The museum is entrusted with a collection that has the status of a designated collection, as determined by the Museums Libraries and Archives Council. However, the standard of collection management has been the subject of considerable concern and criticism in the specialist press because, essentially, the museum has insufficient money to fund the upkeep of the many historic boats in the collection. Unlike the National Railway Museum, which receives funding direct from HM Government, the NWM only receives public money through British Waterways. During the winter of 2008-2009 opening hours were cut at Gloucester and Ellesmere Port to just two days per week in an effort to manage a tough financial situation. Some boats were advertised in Museums Journal early in 2009 for disposal, there being insufficient money for their restoration. Visitors to the Ellesmere Port site can see boats, in the care of a National Museum, sunken into the water or kept afloat by automatic pumps. However, the initiative to create a Heritage Boatyard, with lottery and other funding, has spurred a revival in the museum's fortunes and work on addressing the backlog of maintenance is now taking place. The Heritage Boatyard trains young people in skills that might otherwise be lost.

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