Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Ellesmere Port 

Easter Gathering 2016

The magnificent 90 year old Gifford

This year, the Easter Gathering celebrated two anniversaries. Firstly the 40th anniversary of the museum being open to the public and secondly the 90th birthday of Gifford.

Designed by Thomas Telford, the docks at Ellesmere Port were in use as recently as the fifties. The museum was started in the 1970's by a group of enthusiasts who brought together a collection of boats (including Gifford), tools and canalware to preserve the history of a vanishing way of life. Lottery funding and management by The Waterways Trust improved facilities and although visitor numbers declined in the early 2000's it has seen a rise in the last few years with the renewed interest in canals. The Waterways Archive is housed here, including photographs, plans and letters and has recently digitised over twenty thousand photos including the one below of the Port in the 1920's and Gifford c1964 at Swan Village on the Birmingham Canal Navigations.

Ellesmere Port Docks

Gifford being towed by horse 

Gifford was built as a tank boat to carry liquids for the Thomas Clayton canal carrying company, carrting tar during the 1930' and 1940's and fuel from Stanlow Refinery in the 1940's and 1950's until Claytons ceased carrying in the mid sixties.

Decorated boats welcome visitors at the entrance

The buildings have all been renovated at the museum

Good to see boats still working on the canal network

Gifford in pride of place

Traditional painted cabin

Thomas Clayton livery

1960's British Waterways carrying livery


Saturn above right is last horse-drawn Shropshire Union Canal Fly-Boat in the World – originally built to travel non-stop, day and night, carrying perishable goods (mainly cheese - yum). Over 100 years old, she has been fully restored to her former glory and is run by volunteers.

Decorated Cabin block and planks on Saturn 

Hazel and Gifford bright in the sunshine

Hazel getting a mop by 'Ashton Boatman'

Hazel is an interesting boat, owned by the Wooden Boat Society and recently renovated to become a 'wellbeing boat'. Built in 1914 she carried coal until becoming a pleasure boat for scout groups in the late forties and was donated to the society in the late eighties. The project to transform the boat has recently been completed by volunteers and now offers a chance for people suffering from anxiety or depression to benefit from spending time in peaceful, relaxing environment. Along with volunteers who do a regular 'run' to collect recyling and donations, they have a charity shop. Mutually beneficial, volunteers can help with maintenance, repairs, as crew and the society can preserve the boats for the future whilst helping the most vulnerable in our society. Hats off to them!

Decorated 'elum' or tiller on Ilkeston

Inside the back cabin of Ilkeston - cosy to say the least

Boats top and tail in the locks and pounds

Some more seaworthy vessels in the basin

Regulus built in 1935

Boats awaiting possible restoration, funds allowing....

The once brightly painted is now faded

Historic boats line the basin

Always time for a chat and a brew

Patterns are everywhere

Mirror image

Lovely faded lettering

Not exactly a boat graveyard but who knows when or if these will ever be back in action

Fuel boat Halsall trading at the event - it really is good to see new traders succeeding

Friendship in the museum

The Friendship Panel created by the The Coffee and Crochet Group at the National Waterways Museum, Ellesmere Port

Inside the pump house

Made in Manchester

I think this Gardner might be a bit too big for a narrowboat!

Montage of logos

The engines are all maintained by volunteers

Strange to see a ship in the background, dwarfing the narrowboats. The Manchester Ship Canal runs parallel to the Waterways Museum for a short stretch.

Manchester chemical company Cowburn & Cowpar boat Swan, one of a fleet of eight

The lines of a wooden boat are particularly pleasing

The faint outline of Rivington and Winter Hill in the distance

Ship being towed by tug on the ship canal

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