Welcome to the Boat Museum's web pages

At The Boat Museum in Ellesmere Port we bring Britain's canal history back to life. Come and explore the exhibitions in the historic dock complex and experience life aboard our collection of canal and river craft.

Our Collections

We have a Designated Collection of National Importance which includes over 5,000 objects ranging from large boats to canal company buttons. They all help us to tell the story of canals and the people who worked on them. Many of the objects are on display at the museum whilst the rest are kept in store in our reserve collection.


The Boat Museum offers a wide range of opportunities for students of all ages to explore Curriculum linked topics including industrial history, local history, design and technology and geography. Take a look at a few of the objects from the collection at Ellesmere Port below. If you have any questions about the collection you can email us

Conference Facilities

Tom Rolt Conference Centre

Searching for a venue with a difference?

Then look no further. The Rolt Centre combines quality facilities and service with a fascinating historical backdrop.

Society Aims

The Boat Museum Society exists to secure the preservation and authentic presentation of a representative collection of historic inland waterways craft and associated artefacts, and in assisting and encouraging like-minded individuals and organisations.

In particular, the Society supports and supplements the work of The Boat Museum, working in conjunction with the staff of the Museum to accurately research, restore and exhibit the working craft of the British canal and river network, to demonstrate their proper use and, wherever possible, to preserve some of the professional skills of the boat population who built, used and maintained them.

Whatever your interest, ability and availability the Society and the Museum needs your assistance. In return we can offer the satisfaction of being part of a team of friends helping to preserve the reality of waterways history

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Getting involved

Look at some of the ways you could get involved in helping both at Ellesmere Port and at events around the country.

  • bullet Assisting at special events - and talking with visitors
  • bullet Restoring exhibits - working under the guidance of the Society and Museum staff
  • bullet Operating working exhibits - such as the narrowboats regularly operating through the locks
  • bullet Demonstrating waterways-related crafts - such as traditional painting or fender-making
  • bullet Publicising the Society and the Museum - by attending local and national events
  • bullet Carrying out research - collecting knowledge and photographs

Our Collections 

The Boat Museum has the world's largest collection of traditional canal craft. You can step on board most of the boats during a visit to the museum and get an idea of what life must have been like inside a small narrowboat cabin.

Here are a few of the boats in our collection. Return to this page on your next visit to see some more boats.

The boats featuredin our collections represent a good range of the craft built by Yarwoods of Northwich. Yarwoods was a major boat building yard for inland waterways craft who also built many of their own engines and boilers.

More Information

The Society is an Independent, wholly Voluntary Charitable Trust dedicated for over 30 years to the preservation of working craft of the inland waterways and the associated skills and lore of those who built and worked them. The Society founded the Boat Museum, which it continues to support actively.
The Boat Museum Society meets once a month at the Museum for talks, films and lectures by experts in various waterways topics as well as more informal social evenings The Society produces a regular newsletter keeping the membership up to date with current news about the museum, the Society and future developments as well as publishing historical articles and waterways research.

Many members enjoy giving practical support to the Museum by volunteering to undertake a range of essential tasks on site as well as supporting events, research and promotion of relevance to the national scene. Jobs range from specific projects, through helping at events, to general maintenance on boats and site, cleaning and caring for boat cabins and the Porters Row cottages, to committed, careful work in the Museum Archives. Others find it just as rewarding, or a change, to help with other essential tasks in staffing the cafes or car parks or guiding visitors around the site.