Windermere Jetty Museum of Boats, Steam and Stories to open 23rd March

The Lake District’s swish new £20m Windermere Jetty Museum of Boats, Steam and Stories will open its doors on 23 March.

I keep thinking what a fabulous place it will be for those lucky enough to work there!

The new museum is on the site of the former Windermere Steamboat Museum, which was founded in 1977 by George Pattinson, a steam enthusiast who amassed the unique collection of boats which are all associated with Windermere.

The new museum will have an open-access conservation workshop where visitors will see the team of skilled conservation boat builders conserve and restore vessels using traditional boat building skills. There will also be training, apprentice and volunteer programmes.

The museum will tell the stories of the boats, who built and owned them and how they were used on Windermere. The museum will open with five themed displays: Just Visiting, Life of Luxury, War & Innovation, Spirit of Adventure and Speed. Each will tell unique stories of the people whose lives are linked to the collection, such as steel magnate Henry Schneider who used his yacht TSSY Esperance (1869), to commute to work. These stories will tell visitors about the craft and history of boat building on Windermere and the fascinating and eventful personal stories behind the collection.

Key highlights of the museum’s collection include:

  • 11 vessels listed by National Historic Ships as nationally important
  • 10 classic Windermere steam launches (1890s / 1900s)
  • rare early yacht, Margaret (1780)
  • SL Dolly (1850), thought to be the oldest mechanically
  • powered boat in the world
  • Beatrix Potter’s tarn boat, which she used to sketch in on Moss Eccles Tarn
  • pioneering motor, speedboats and hydroplanes used on the lake from 1898 – 1980
  • Canfly (1922), powered by a seven-litre Rolls Royce aero engine
  • two fully-restored boats on the lake, one of which visitors
    will be able to sail on when the museum opens

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Salcombe Maritime Museum

The little town of Salcombe at the southern tip of Devon has a smashing, packed little community museum that’s open from 10.30am-12.30pm from April to October – it’s definitely worth a trip, as it’s full of great exhibits about shipping, boatbuilding, fishing and pleasure boating.

One of the many things I learned was that Tennyson wrote his iconic poem Crossing the Bar in 1889 after arriving at Salcombe in a very impressive and comfortable looking steam yacht.

I wonder what the bar looked like that day, and what stories he heard about it. That bar has a history: just a generation after Tennyson wrote his poem in 1916 the town experienced a terrible lifeboat disaster in which 13 crewmen drowned.

If you can take a dinghy down for a sail or a motor on the lovely estuary, I recommend that too…

News from the West Wales Maritime Heritage Society

West Wales Maritime Heritage Society member Brian King has been in touch to tell us about the society’s latest activities. Here’s what he says:

‘The society has been a bit quiet, our museum is open six days a week until the end of September, and behind the scenes we have been hard at work.

‘Our priority is to finish building our replica Tenby Lugger, Heritage, which was started by MITEC college in Milford Haven. We acquired the unfinished hull in July 2017, after the college ceased operations, and are currently working on the spars and auxiliary engine and are hoping to finish her in time for a naming event in Tenby in July.

‘We will use the lugger to take primary school children afloat as part of an education programme.

‘There were nearly 100 luggers in Tenby and ports all around, but after the steam trawlers came they were only used for tourist fishing and holidaymakers’ trips round the bay.

‘We are also building a copy of a local smaller fishing boat in the museum to demonstrate traditional tools and materials.

‘As well as maritime material, our museum also has displays of steam engines, models and local history.

‘The local scouts are building coracles in our shed. Each group will build their own and then combine for trips and competitions, and there is a programme for unemployed people to volunteer with us with the aim of improving their job prospects.

‘The Royal Naval Air Service armoured car was one of only 12 built on a Ford Model T chassis, and fought in Russia in 1916 and 17. It had a Maxim or a Vickers machine gun on the back.

‘It is not ours, but we show it because the owner does not have a display space. He bought in packing crates three years ago. The wheels and tyres are modern replacements, but most of the armour plates, engine etc is original. It is now roadworthy and will appear at Tankfest this summer.

‘We have 25 regular members, and always happy to welcome new recruits: specialist skills are not required, as there’s a lot to do painting boats and manning the museum.

‘Our Facebook page is West Wales Maritime Museum.’

Thanks Brian! Good luck with your great projects this year!

Regular readers may remember that Brian built a Barton skiff some years ago.