Ellesmere Port was originally established as an access point to the sea from Shropshire and the Welsh borders around Llangollen. Today it is still a thriving industrial area, but it also has much to offer the visitor. Here are some of the places of interest the town offers.
National Waterways Museum
Located on a seven acre site which was previously a canal dock where the Shropshire Union Canal meets the Manchester Ship Canal, this fascinating museum and activity centre provides a great day out for all the family and incorporates a boat museum.
The dock was designed by Thomas Telford and William Jessop and is a profound testament to these geniuses of the Industrial Revolution. The museum houses the world’s largest collection of canal boats and some beautiful Victorian buildings. You can explore the locks, mooring areas and warehouses and the painstakingly renovated and period faithful dockworker’s cottages representing various periods including the 1830s, 1930s and 1950s and guides in period costumes will tell you how life was lived back then.
You can view an amazing display of sailing vessels including a 1,000 year old log boat, coracles, a concrete barge and a steam powered dredger. A blacksmith’s forge is still in use and you can meet the resident blacksmith.
There’s also an opportunity to take a cruise along the Shropshire Union Canal while a tour guide tells the story of this historic waterway’s changing fortunes.
Blue Planet Aquarium
The largest aquarium in North West England and home to over 100 displays, Blue Planet was opened in 1998 in a building designed, appropriately enough, to resemble a crashing wave. The main tank contains some 4million litres of water and there is a 71 metre long underwater tunnel (one of the longest in the world) where you can come face to face with the denizens of the deep, including more sharks than you will meet anywhere else in Britain. Other favourites include the Giant Pacific Octopus and the Black Pacu.
Various marine habitats are carefully recreated and include Lakes and Ponds, Tropical Rivers, Seas and Oceans and Where the Land Meets the Sea. You can even book a tour to see behind the scenes and learn how a major show aquarium functions and how the staff care for their extensive collections of fascinating marine life. If you’re brave enough, you can even dive with the sharks.
The aquarium also boasts some dry land features, including an innovative display of venomous creatures such as scorpions, tarantulas and giant golden web spinning spiders and puts you right at the heart of the action.
Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet
If you fancy a little retail therapy, this is the place to go. With 145 shops, this is the UKs biggest outlet centre. It also has cafes, restaurants and two adventure playgrounds for children. Many prices are at least 30% less than recommended retail price.
Ellesmere Port is also conveniently placed for attractions in nearby Chester such as the Zoo and Cathedral. One day isn’t enough to see it all, so you might want to stay longer. Those looking to stay for a night or two should consider the HI Ellesmere Port, which offers a delightful canal side location and convenient access to the town’s attractions.