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Easter boating fun in Ellesmere Port

Easter Boat Gathering at the National Waterways Museum Ellesmere Port Credit: National Waterways Museum

Dozens of narrow boats and barges are expected to travel to the 40th Boat Gathering at the National Waterways Museum this weekend.

Each year the National Waterways Museum Ellesmere Port (run by the Canal & River Trust) hosts the Easter Boat Gathering. This year is the 40th anniversary of this colourful event with dozens of historic narrow boats and barges travelling from all over the country to convene at the Museum on the banks of the Mersey. It's a weekend for boat owners to catch up with old friends and showcase their remarkable craft, most of which are over 80 years old.

This year Leeds and Liverpool wide boat Kennet is joining the recently restored wooden wide boat George. Both are due to be crossing the River Mersey after the event. Also being welcomed is the wooden fly-boat Saturn, the last boat of her type in the world which travels around providing educational visits for schoolchildren.

Whilst onshore the museum will be alive with a programme of music, theatre and poetry from leading local artists - all inspired by the waterways.

The Easter Boat Gathering was begun by volunteers back in 1977, many of those volunteers are still involved in the Museum and in the event today. It's also the first and one of the most significant of national events on the Waterways calendar.

Music fans can look forward to a weekend of performances from some of the folk scene's finest. The line-up includes: award-winning folk artist Phil Underwood, popular duo Mick Ryan and Paul Downes and Chester-based five-piece Full House. They will be joined by local folk band and regular visitors to the museum - the Wirral Singers and Ringers.

Waterway history will be explored by Heather Wastie and Kate Saffin in 'Idle Women of the Wartime Waterways'. Idle Women were nick-named from the initials they wore whilst volunteering on the Inland Waterways during the Second World War. Heather and Kate look at their fascinating, but rarely told story through theatre, poetry and music.

Visitors can research their own unique waterway history in the Waterways Archive - a national collection of thousands of items, including documents, diaries, letters and photographs.

Children and families can enjoy music created just for them by David Gibb, with the chance to sing and play along. Meanwhile open music sessions with other local and visiting folk musicians will offer the floor to anyone willing to share their tuneful talents.

"The Easter Boat Gathering is always a special event as it marks the official start of the main boating season. But this year is even more notable as it marks four decades of coming together at the museum. Music and performance is integral to our waterway heritage and we're delighted to have so many great performers joining us to entertain those who have travelled the canals and waterways to be with us. We look forward to a memorable long weekend."

– Graham Boxer, Head of Museums for the Canal & River Trust