Parmjit Dhanda MP with the Mayor of Gloucester and children from Hempsted Primary School. Parmjit unveiled the new Water Lives exhibition. © The Waterways Trust
The National Waterways Museum at Gloucester Docks, which has been closed since November for refurbishment, re-opened to the public on Saturday May 24 2008.
Four new galleries give visitors an insight into what it would have been like to live and work on the 3,000 miles of canals and rivers that criss-cross the nation, whilst a new exhibition, Water Lives, tells the story of those who have lived, travelled and worked on Britain’s changing waterways.
Parmjit Dhanda MP formally opened the revamped museum and exhibition on May 23 before an invited audience including local schoolchildren.
“I am delighted that out of a period of change has come a renewed museum ready to meet the needs of visitors now and into the future,” said Parmjit. “Situated in the heart of the Docks, the museum is a focal point in the regeneration of the area.”
“The developments surrounding us mirror the regeneration which is taking place along the nation’s waterways, across the country which is now worth an estimated £19 billion.”
The MP added that restoration and regeneration of our waterways is helping to create vibrant communities in urban and rural areas.
“A living, lively National Waterways Museum can help realise the social, educational, economic and environmental benefits of this regeneration by bringing people back to the Docks,” he said.
The newly refurbished museum has been redesigned with a family focus. © Waterways Trust
Housed in a Victorian warehouse at the historic Gloucester Docks, the museum is operated by the Waterways Trust and charts the story of Britain's canals through a special collection which has been designated as being of national importance.
The new galleries use this collection, which spans from the 18th century to the present day, to highlight the experiences of real people to create a clear and easy to follow narrative which flows through the museum.
The Ecology Gallery is devoted to the wildlife and ecology that can be found along our canals and rivers, whilst ‘Move It’ is a totally redesigned interactive space that explains how the canals were built and operated.
From the ground floor galleries visitors can access the external display areas and floating exhibits. On the first floor the museum opens up to reveal a newly created series of displays, each continuing the narrative of how people worked, moved and lived on the waterways.
A separate display area on the first floor is devoted to local stories; real life accounts and experiences that bring the rich heritage of Gloucester to life.
Funding for the refurbishment has been provided by Gloucester Heritage Urban Regeneration Company, British Waterways and the Friends of the National Waterways Museum.