Gloucester Waterways Museum
The Gloucester Waterways Museum is housed in a Grade II listed warehouse at the heart of Gloucester's docks and beside the Gloucester and Sharpness Ship Canal and River Severn.
Housed in the historic Llanthony Warehouse in the heart of Gloucester Docks, the Gloucester Waterways Museum offers interactive exhibits and showcases historic boats. Discover the rich history of Britain’s inland waterways and explore unique insights into the communities that flourished around the Gloucester and Sharpness Canals.
A Rich History of Canals and Rivers in Britain
The Gloucester Waterways Museum was originally opened in 1988. It was formerly known as the National Waterways Museum, and its main focus is to preserve and display the history of canals in Britain.
The Llanthony Warehouse
The museum is situated in the Llanthony Warehouse, a Grade II listed building that was built in 1873. Designed by Capel N Tripp for local corn merchants, Wait, James & Co., the six-storey red brick warehouse was initially used for storing timber, grain, and alcohol.
Interactive Exhibits and Hands-on Displays
The Gloucester Waterways Museum offers visitors a variety of interactive exhibits and hands-on displays that cater to all ages. Some of the most popular exhibits include:
Gloucester Waterways Museum Information
Llanthony Warehouse, The Docks, Gloucester GL1 2EH, UK
Tuesday: 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Wednesday: 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Thursday: 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Friday: 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Saturday: 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
NOTE: Canalside venues often have seasonal opening hours. They can be subject to change. So, it's always advisable to check with the venue before visiting.
Model of a Canal with Working Locks
Visitors can witness a canal in action through a meticulously designed model that showcases a portion of the canal equipped with working locks. This hands-on display provides an entertaining and informative learning opportunity for people of all ages.
Historic Boat Collection
The museum boasts an impressive collection of boats, including narrowboats, river barges, canal and river tugs, and a steam-powered dredger. Visitors can climb aboard these historic vessels and learn about their unique stories and their important roles in developing Britain’s waterways.
Steam Crane and Heavy Oil Engine
The museum also features a steam crane and a heavy oil engine in the setting of a canal repair yard. Complete with a working machine shop, forge, and weighbridge, this exhibit provides a glimpse into the industrial past of Britain’s waterways.
Archive Films and Galleries
Visitors can explore galleries filled with canal heritage and stories and watch archive films showcasing the history and development of Britain’s inland waterways.
Boat Trips and Boat Hire
The Gloucester Waterways Museum offers 45-minute boat trips along the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal aboard Queen Boadicea II, a Dunkirk Little Ship. These boat trips give visitors the opportunity to see the beauty and history of the canal first-hand. Boats are also available for hire, allowing visitors to explore the waterways at their own pace.
Places to Eat and Relax
The museum features a cafe that offers a selection of tasty treats and refreshing beverages. Visitors can also relax on the picnic benches, funded by the Friends of the National Waterways Museum, located outside the cafe. The cafe and gift shop are free to visit all year round.
The Gloucester Waterways Museum welcomes well-behaved dogs both inside the museum and on board the trip boat. The cafe even sells vanilla dog ice cream, ensuring that canine visitors are treated just as well as their human counterparts!
Accessibility and Facilities
The museum is committed to providing a welcoming and accessible environment for all visitors. Facilities for disabled visitors include:
- All areas accessible to disabled visitors
- Ramps and level access
- Toilets for disabled visitors
- Facilities for hearing-impaired visitors, such as enhanced audio on individual displays
- Guide dogs permitted
Gloucester Waterways Museum Directions
By car. Gloucester Waterways Museum is located in Gloucester’s historic docks. From M5 junctions 11a or 12, the A38, A40 or A417, follow the brown signs to Historic Gloucester Docks. The entrance to the Museum car park is from the east end of Llanthony Road.
Park and ride services are available, Monday to Saturday, from Waterwells, Quedgeley (near M5 junction 12) and the Old Cattle Market, St Oswalds Road. Both routes pass the entrance to the Docks.
By rail and bus. Gloucester railway and bus stations are across the road from each other on Bruton Way. The museum is a 15 – 20 minute walk via Clarence Street, Eastgate Street and Southgate Street. There is a taxi rank at the train station and near the bus station. Pedestrian access to the docks is near the corner of Southgate Street and Commercial Road.
The Gloucester Waterways Museum regularly hosts family activities during school holidays, talks for enthusiasts, craft demonstrations, and seasonal cruise specials. Follow the museum on Facebook and Instagram for regular updates on upcoming events and activities.
An Award-Winning Museum Experience
The Gloucester Waterways Museum has been awarded the Certificate of Excellence by Trip Advisor for 2013 and 2014. With its rich history, interactive exhibits, and picturesque surroundings, the museum offers an unparalleled experience for those seeking to explore Britain’s inland waterways. Remember, your ticket allows you to return as many times as you like within 12 months, ensuring that you can fully immerse yourself in the fascinating world of the Gloucester Waterways Museum.
Sister Museums and Collaborations
The Gloucester Waterways Museum is one of several museums run by the Canal & River Trust. Other museums in the network include The National Waterways Museum, based at Ellesmere Port, and The Canal Museum in Stoke Bruerne, Northamptonshire. Together, these museums offer visitors a thorough understanding of the fascinating history of the United Kingdom’s waterways.