Boat museum will become a centre for conservation
Last updated at 15:12, Friday, 13 May 2011
THE Windermere Steamboat Museum and Historic Boat Collection, on the shores of Windermere, has been awarded a development grant of £494,000 by the Heritage Lottery Fund, it was announced this week.
The grant will go towards the development of a £7.4m project by Lakeland Arts Trust to reopen the museum as a world-class attraction by 2015.
The Windermere Steamboat Museum houses a nationally significant boat and maritime collection dating from the 12th century.
Its unique collection particularly demonstrates the development of boat building in the Lake District over the last 200 years, telling the story of how the vessels were used on Windermere for both commerce and leisure.
The aim of the development is to make the museum a centre for boat conservation and learning, as well as enhancing its wonderful lakeside setting.
Gordon Watson, chief executive of Lakeland Arts Trust, says: “What people will see when they come in is the boats restored and in the water; and the sights and sounds and smells of boats in the water.
“They will see the exhibition area, where we will talk about the history of the boats; how many were made around Windermere and used on Windermere.”
The vision for the museum, which is currently closed to the public, is to create a dynamic museum, which tells the story of the local boat-building industry and the people who lived and worked locally, as well as inspiring an interest in the traditional craft of boat-building among new generations.
Integral to these plans is accredited training and apprenticeships in boat conservation.
“Modern boat building, generally speaking, is a whole different trade in the sense that it’s using fibreglass and modern materials,” adds Gordon.
“But there always has been, and will continue to be, an interest in wooden boat building.
“It’s a trade that’s in danger of being lost and part of the museum’s function is to keep that going and we hope to become a centre of excellence and do things very thoroughly and correctly and people can come and learn.
“Both locally and nationally, people can come and see how we’ve done it.”
Conservation started when Lakeland Arts Trust took over the museum in 2007.
The museum houses an extensive collection of historic vessels, many of which need restoring.
It’s envisaged the rescue programme will involve volunteers with skills to contribute to wooden boat restoration; apprenticeships in boat building and thirdly, through expanding the conservation workshop, there will be an opportunity to increase the site’s workforce.
Lakeland Arts Trust has up to two years to develop and submit the final proposals to the Heritage Lottery Fund to compete for a firm award of £7.4m.
Key to this is creating a visually-stunning attraction to complement its lakeside setting.
The trust is launching an international competition to select an architect to design a building appropriate to the site.
“What we’re looking for is appointing an architect who really understands the museum, the collection, what people want when they come to the museum, but also is very sensitive to the site.
“It’s a very important site, right in the heart of the Lake District,” adds Gordon.
The trust is also working with Windermere Lake Cruises to explore the possibility of visitors arriving and departing by boat.
“People will come to the museum and then go to Bowness or further afield and come back to the museum because we will have a really nice cafe and shop,” explains Gordon.
“We have a very beautiful site, a very important site. It’s quite a large site and we won’t be filling all of that with the museum. We hope that people can come and enjoy being by the lakeshore.”
Although steamboats are key to the museum, they are only part of the collection, which also houses motorboats which were used to set speed records; a really early yacht from the 1780s and a rowing boat used in the 1960 Olympics.
First published at 13:07, Friday, 13 May 2011
Published by http://www.nwemail.co.uk
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