Visit the Gloucester Waterways Museum and explore the fascinating story behind Britain's canals, rivers and inland ports.

Discover the fascinating story of Britain's canals and rivers with a visit to the award-winning Gloucester Waterways Museum. Housed within an original Grade II listed Victorian dockside warehouse, the Gloucester Waterways Museum boasts a collection of interesting and often "hands-on" exhibits over three floors.

The Gloucester Waterways Museum isn't just an indoor museum. On the museum dockside, there are further exhibits including historic boats which visitors can climb aboard and explore. The Northwich is a narrow boat originally built to be towed by a horse. Later on, it carried cargo whilst being towed by a boat with an engine.

The exterior of the Gloucester Waterways Museum
The Waterways Museum at Gloucester Docks is housed within this impressive Grade II listed Victorian warehouse.

Climb aboard the impressive SND No.4 which is a vintage Dutch-built steam dredger, used until 1981 for dredging both Gloucester Docks and the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal. It removed the silt from the bottom of the canal and basin using a bucket ladder, before emptying the muddy contents into a barge moored alongside. Adults will appreciate the informative commentary on board, whilst children will find it fun to open the door to the Dredge Master's cabin!

Back inside the museum, there is the opportunity to watch archive films and browse the many interesting displays and exhibitions. You can find out how canal locks work and even have a go yourself at working a lock using miniature narrow boats. The Bluebird motor cruiser and the Cylgate replica narrow boat cabin are definitely worth a look. You can learn about the engineering feats involved in building the canal network and what life on board a canal boat was really like.

Jake is an exhibit aboard the steam dredger
You will meet with Jake onboard the SND No.4 steam dredger, but go careful opening the door to the Dredge Master's cabin!

Once a very important inland port and a gateway for international trade, you may be surprised to find out the types and sizes of vessels that used to visit Gloucester Docks and the far-off and exotic destinations that they had often travelled from. Learning about these important trading days whilst being surrounded by an authentic display of crates, barrels, baskets and sacks gives a real sense of atmosphere and helps to give an impression of what the Gloucester docksides would have felt like in their heyday.

The museum is very welcoming and child friendly, with numerous activities suitable for children. They will enjoy trying the period waterways clothing in the dressing-up box; using the fun touchscreen activities including painting a canal boat; and trying the series of pulleys for lifting sacks.

Crates, barrels, baskets and sacks
The Victorian warehouse setting of the museum helps to give an impression of what the Gloucester docksides would have felt like in the early 19th Century.

The museum offers an authentic and informative experience of the British waterways heritage that will engage all visitors, regardless of age.

Realistic sets depicting various aspects of waterways life are located throughout the Gloucester Waterways Museum. We particularly liked the scene depicting a boatman using his legs to propel a boat through a canal tunnel.

A set depicting a narrowboat scene
Realistic sets depicting various aspects of waterways life, such as this canal boat scene, are located throughout the Gloucester Waterways Museum

The Waterways Museum at Gloucester Docks offers the chance to take an optional 45 minute boat trip on the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal aboard the historic Queen Boadicea II 'Dunkirk Little Ship' with an entertaining commentary by the skipper.

The museum is open on a daily basis throughout the year except Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, the 30th December and New Years Day. The opening hours are 10.30am - 4.30pm.

Adults £4.95
Senior Citizens and concessions £3.95
Children (4 - 16 years) £3.50
Under 4s go FREE
Family Ticket (two adults and two children) £14.00
Family Ticket (one adult and two children) £9.00

For further information, please contact the Gloucester Waterways Museum by calling Gloucester (01452) 318200 or email

Dean Lutton
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