Canal Museums & Waterways Museums

The best places to see the story of the changes that the canals brought are in the waterways museums. On thing they all share is the dedication and enthusiasm of their staff, a huge range of experience and information on offer.

They include the Gloucester Waterways Museum which tackles the whole broad subject of waterways in a comprehensive way, from water supply to wildlife, whilst the National Waterways Museum at Ellesmere Port  has a huge collection of historic boats and barges, many of which are displayed afloat and working. Sadly the poor condition of many due to lack of funds has led to some being broken up and others stored on dry land. There are are several smaller canal museums, such as the Canal Museum at Stoke Bruerne in Northamptonshire, and many exhibitions and interpretation centres all over the canal system. Although they all give some sort of historic overview, each naturally tends to reflect the history of their own particular area which is part of their interest and charm.

Some very interesting canal exhibitions are part of larger regional museums, The Black Country Living Museum in Dudley, for example, has a number of complete boats as well as a recreated working canal boatyard to service them.

Gloucester Waterways Museum

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.

Shardlow Heritage Centre

Shardlow Heritage Centre. Shardlow has a unique place in the history of this country. The 18th century canal port, with all its associated wharves and warehouses is clearly to be seen.

Stoke Bruerne Canal Museum

Stoke Bruerne Canal Museum. The Canal Museum provides an excellent overview of the history of Britain's canals. Together with the audio guide that is free with museum entry, it is the key to understanding the rich heritage of the Grand Union Canal.

The Black Country Living Museum

The Black Country Living Museum. The World’s First Industrial Landscape celebrated at the Black Country Living Museum. The museum tells the story of the industrial revolution through the everyday lives of the people whose skills shaped the modern world.

The London Canal Museum

The London Canal Museum. The London Canal Museum is housed in a building that was built in the 1860s as an ice warehouse adjoining Battlebridge basin on the Regent's Canal.

The National Waterways Museum

The National Waterways Museum. The National Waterways Museum has one of the world's largest floating collections of traditional canal craft. They include narrowboats, canal barges, river barges, canal and river tugs, icebreakers and a coaster.

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