About us


A group of waterway enthusiasts formed the North Western Museum of Inland Navigation Ltd in 1971 to prevent the working craft and traditions of the waterways from disappearing. This developed into the accredited National Waterways Museum, Ellesmere Port, which the Waterways Museum Society (formerly known as the Boat Museum Society) is committed to supporting, in preserving the Canal & River Trust’s nationally important collection of historic boats, artifacts and archives.

The Society works together with the Trust in encouraging the public to appreciate and treasure the canals and their traditional skills and way of life, and many of its members give day to day support by working as volunteers at the Museum or participating in promotional events at venues on the canal network.

The Society’s long-standing involvement in waterways heritage means that many of its members are held in high regard, and contribute their knowledge and advice both locally, and nationally.

The Society owns one of the historic vessels at the Museum, the horse drawn tar boat Gifford, which is looked after and operated by WMS members.

The Society’s newsletter, RE:PORT, is published four times a year, both in hard copy and online. The newsletter keeps members informed about the activities of the Society, and the National Waterways Museum, as well as containing articles and snippets of news regarding waterways related subjects.

WMS also produces and edits The Waterways Journal, an annual and highly regarded publication, containing research articles written by individuals from the wider waterways community.

A social evening for members, and guests, is held once a month from September through to May in the Rolt Centre at the National Waterways Museum, Ellesmere Port. The evening programme usually consists of a talk, film or lecture by experts on various waterway topics, and provides the opportunity to mix with other members over a coffee or alcoholic beverage from the bar.

Whilst members’ financial support is essential in enabling the Society to continue to maintain Gifford, and providing grants towards small Museum projects, it also likes to welcome individuals who may wish to be more actively involved in the work of the Society, for example, by being involved in its governance, or representing its interests on external bodies involved with the waterways.

Are you looking for speakers for your club or society?

Waterways Museum Society members give talks on a wide range of topics connected with the museum and boats. For more information contact us.

Below is a list of some of the topics on which our speakers give talks:-

The Lives of the Families who worked on Narrow Boats in the 20th century.

The Development of the National Waterways Museum at Ellesmere Port.

Thomas Clayton of Oldbury – Carriers of gas tar and fuel oil.

The History of Ellesmere Port Docks.

The Wolverhampton Corrugated Iron Company of Ellesmere Port.

Hospital Barges in northern France in WW 1.

Boating in France, Belgium & the Netherlands in a converted oil tanker.

Preston Brook and the Bridgewater Canal.

Mrs Harley’s story – the life of a boat girl.

From Boat Museum to National Waterways Museum.

Restoration of the Box Boat.