Gloucester Waterways Museum

The 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. Its collections include objects that have been designated to be of national importance.

With its stunning location, beautiful boats and rich and varied displays Gloucester Waterways Museum is perfectly placed to tell the story of Britain's waterways and provide insights into the history of Gloucester's impressive docks.

Living havens for wildlife

Our first display celebrates the role canals play in providing havens for birds, insects, plants and fish.
Sit and watch an inspiring film and find out more about what to look for next time you take a walk or cycle ride along your local canal towpath.

This bright and attractive display is a great way to introduce children to the wildlife around them and to our wonderful canals and waterways.

Move it!

Horses, engines, boats, locks and more...

Packed with intricate models, hands-on displays and real working engines, this dynamic gallery looks at the ingenious workings of the locks and boats on our waterways.

You can navigate a lock, race boats to test out different designs and try your hand at boat building and traditional decoration on one of our computer displays.

Just add water! Kids of all ages will enjoy getting their hands wet and discovering for themselves how canals work.
From sailing ships to narrow boats...

Gloucester’s docks were a gateway between the world of tall ships and international trade, and Britain's network of inland waterways. And sailing vessels and tall ships still visit the docks today.

On the museum quayside you can see historic craft, including steam dredger SND No 4, tug Severn Progress, barge Sabrina, narrow boats Northwich, Wye and Oak, and the Herefordshire and Gloucestershire Canal Trust's workboat Renton. You can explore inside some of them.

Many features remain from the working docks, including a steam crane, fireless locomotive and railway lines and turntables. Friends of the Museum will often be on hand to answer your questions and to power up the steam crane or the magnificent dredger.

The wonderful website is packed with fascinating information, photos and oral history.

Waterways lives uncovered...

The large, first floor gallery contains extensive displays divided into two sections…

Trade and the Docks
captures the atmosphere of a working warehouse and shows the role played by docks and canals in the British Empire and the Industrial Revolution. There’s a wonderful archive film shot in the 1960s of tugs and barges on the Gloucester and Sharpness Ship Canal and hands-on displays include the popular pulley and sack (pictured).

The story of canals gives a fascinating overview of the people who created, worked and lived on the canals. Through tools of the trade, clothing, documents and silverware a picture is built of the boat families, navvies, engineers and business men who made canals their lives. Look out for the gleaming classic motor launch and beautifully painted canalware.

Roses and Castles Gallery (third floor)

Packed with vibrant colour this display compares and contrasts the different painting styles and techniques used on traditional working craft such as narrow boats, barges and Norfolk Wherries.
Tunneling, dredging and water management

Canals are a feat of engineering and need on-going care and maintenance. Find out about water management, dredging, bridges and tunnels, and how engineers, carpenters and blacksmiths keep our canals working.

Accessibility A A A