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Things to do in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire

Ellesmere Port is an industrial town on the Wirral Peninsula, eight miles north of Chester.

This port town in Cheshire is on the banks of the Manchester Ship Canal and is the northern terminus of the Shropshire Union Canal.

War memorial, © Dale Miles
War Memorial © Dale Miles

At the 2001 census, Ellesmere Port had a population of 64,000 people. The town is mainly industrial with a large oil refinery at Stanlow and many factories.

The town is close to the M56 and M53 motorways. There is a bus station and a railway station which has frequent electric trains connecting Ellesmere Port with Liverpool.

The Port Arcades Shopping Centre was completed in the mid-1980s and the new Coliseum shopping Park includes a multiplex cinema.

Just outside the town is the Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet Mall, one of the largest in Europe with 145 shops selling discounted sports goods, designer-label clothing and household goods.

Library © Dale Miles
Library © Dale Miles

Things to Do Around Ellesmere Port

The National Waterways Museum at Ellesmere Port is situated where the Shropshire Union Canal joins the Manchester Ship Canal.

The museum has the world’s largest collection of canal boats, and informative displays on everything from the history of boat building to how locks work.

Civic Hall © Dale Miles
Civic Hall © Dale Miles

The Blue Planet Aquarium is one of Britain’s largest aquaria with both marine and freshwater species. Built in the shape of a wave, the aquarium features a 71 metre (233 feet) long underwater tunnel and its largest tank holds 4 million litres of water.

The Shropshire Union Canal offers walks along the towpath and opportunities for boating, kayaking and nature spotting.

The Wirral Country Park is an excellent family attraction with its own beach on the River Dee. Within the park, the Wirral Way offers 12 miles of trails along the old railway.

The Ness Botanic Gardens were created in 1898 by Arthur Kilpin Bulley. Now owned by the University of Liverpool, they are one of the major botanical gardens in the UK in a beautiful situation overlooking the River Dee.

part of shopping area © Dale Miles
Part of shopping area © Dale Miles

The Wirral Museum recalls the history of this area with a fine collection of exhibits and displays in the magnificent former Town Hall in Birkenhead.


History of Ellesmere Port

The manmade Ellesmere Canal was engineered by William Jessop and Thomas Telford to connect the rivers Dee, Mersey and Severn at Whitby Locks.

The connection to the Severn was never completed, but the project created the port which became known as Ellesmere Port.

There had been small settlements in the area since the Domesday Book in the 11th century but the first houses in Ellesmere Port were built around the docks. The town gradually expanded with residential, retail and industrial buildings.

Bus station © Dale Miles
Bus Station © Dale Miles

The first main street was Dock Street where the National Waterways Museum can now be seen.

By the 1920s the Stanlow Oil Refinery and the Manchester Ship Canal had attracted enough employment for Ellesmere Port to have expanded significantly.

It incorporated the villages of Hooton, Great and Little Sutton, Overpool, Whitby and Riveracre and the former Stud Farm.

In the 1950s new housing estates were built to house workers at the Vauxhall Car Plant which continues to be a large local employer.

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