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Time Off: Sail through time with your children; Janet Tansley and family push the boat out at Ellesmere Port Boat Museum.

Byline: Janet Tansley

IT was the two rag dolls sitting by the museum entrance which prompted the inevitable chorus ...

``Rosie and Jim,Rosie and Jim,chugging along on the old Rag Doll ...''

Any parent with young children would have no problem joining in with this popular TV programme theme tune.

I love places which you know are going to be both educational and fun for the family,and this did not fail to fulfill that criteria.

Owned by The Waterways Trust, theBoat Museum takes you back up to 200 years to give you a glimpse into the life and industry.

The children were fascinated by the old black and white photos of workers in the 1960s and thehorsedrawn boats which were used right up until the 50s.

But,of course, there's nothing like a hands on/ climb on experience to fully appreciate what life was like.

A tour takes you from the reception around the museum site before ending up at the Toll House in the centre of the site whch was once the operational centre of the docks (now home to the Carrying Exhibition and the Manchester Ship Canal Exhibition).

You can see the old stables and ridged horse path, used for overnight stabling of the boat horses; the Pump House which fired this hive of industry and the workshops where the joiners and the tinsmiths worked.

The children's highlight was the chance to climb aboard some of the old boats,including a wonderfully maintained vessel in the indoor exhibition area (Indoor Warehouse).

My highlight was Porters Row,four of 12 original cottages built in 1833 for company employees.

With radios blasting, chips unwrapped on the kitchen table and a newspaper lying on a front parlour armchair,it seemed that at any minute, the workers would arrive home to these cosy homes.

And behind these were some Victorian toys which the children are welcome to play with.

The outside areas are exposed, soit's wise to wrap up warm before you go.

But when the wind chill factor finally defeats you, you can go to the cafe for a steaming cup of hot chocolate or ,as my husband had, a huge bowl of fresh soup with a roll -a snip at pounds 1.90.

We were too late for the two boat trips which go out daily,but we still managed to enjoy a good few hours here -and still only see half it had to offer.

So it won't be too long before we'll be barging through its doors again.

We have got three family tickets, worth pounds 16.50 each, to win. To be in with a chance, just tell us why you'dlike to have fun by the water. Send your entries to: Time Off/ Boat Competition,C/O Janet Tansley,Liverpool ECHO,Features Dept. ,PO Box 48,Old Hall Street,Liverpool L69 3EB. Usual competition rules apply.

FACTFILEThe Boat Museum, South Pier Road, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire,CH65 4FW. Tel: 0151 3555017 Opening times: During the summer, 10 am -5pm; winter, 11 am - 4pm. Closed on Thursdays and Fridays. Website: www.boatmuseum .org.uk Admission charges: pounds 5.50 for adults, pounds 3.70 for children,free for under 5s. A family ticket for two adults and two children costs pounds 16.50.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Nov 4, 2003
Words:545
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