The museum features a series of jetties that give visitors access to Lake Windermere. Photograph by Christian Richter

Windermere Jetty Museum opens in Lake District

Geraldine Kendall Adams, 27.03.2019
New £20m museum will restore and showcase historic boats
The Windermere Jetty Museum of Boats, Steam and Stories has opened in the Lake District after an eight-year development.

The new £20m museum stands on the site of the former Windermere Steamboat Museum, which closed to the public in 2006.  It tells the 200-year history of “boats, boating and boat-building” in the region.

Designed by London-based architects Carmody Groarke, the museum is one of the first contemporary buildings constructed on the shores of Lake Windermere in more than half a century. Echoing the site’s past as a gravel extraction plant, the museum features a cluster of seven interconnected sheds clad in dark copper.

The building includes a wet dock and a series of jetties where the museum’s historic boats will be launched onto the lake and visitors can alight for tours on the restored wooden 1902 steamboat, the Osprey. Cruise boats will also be able to dock at the jetty and bring their clientele to the museum.

The exhibition space features five themed displays: Just Visiting, Life of Luxury, War and Innovation, Spirit of Adventure and Speed. These showcase the museum’s collection of more than 40 vessels, ranging from luxurious Victorian steam launches to the record-breaking speedboats of the 1980s.

Highlights include the 1850 SL Dolly, which was rediscovered at the bottom of Lake Ullswater in 1960 after sinking 65 years before. The vessel is thought to be the oldest mechanically powered boat in the world.
 
The museum also functions as an operational boatyard, with an open access conservation workshop where apprentices and volunteers will be taught traditional boat-building and restoration skills.

The museum is operated by the Lakeland Arts Trust, whose chief executive, Rhian Harris, said: “Our design team have created an extraordinary museum which connects visitors with the collection, to the lake and with the wider Lake District landscape telling the incredible stories of those to whom Windermere has been so important."

The museum was originally scheduled to open in 2015, but its construction suffered a series of delays caused by budget over-runs and inclement weather.

The project was funded by a £13m grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, with further support coming from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund, the Regional Growth Fund, the Rural Development Programme for England.

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