THE doors opened at Barrow's new Dock Museum 25 years ago to tell the story of the town's rich shipbuilding and maritime heritage.

The Mail, on Monday, May 2 in 1994, noted: "More than 3,000 people flocked to Barrow's new £2m Dock Museum over the weekend with 400 visiting in the first hour alone.

"A total of 1,600 visitors look round the museum on Saturday with another 1,300 calling in at the town's new tourist attraction yesterday."

Rachel Litten, the museum's operations manager said: "People just flooded in. They were bowled over by it."

Barrow mayor, Cllr Hazel Edwards, cut the ribbon to officially open the museum.

She said: "I hope this museum will put Barrow on the map not only locally but nationally."

Vera Hartlebury,of Hawcoat Lane, Barrow, was one of the first visitors and had family links with shipbuilding in the town.

The article noted: "The museum brought back memories for 76-year-old Frank Southall, of Litchmead Grove, Barrow, who worked at the dockyards for 40 years.

"He said the 33ft deep dry graving dock which is now part of the museum witnessed some frantic work during the Second World War."

He said: "It's good that they've put together this museum to tell the stories."

The Mail, on Friday, April 29, showed staff getting the museum's displays ready for the big opening ceremony.

It noted: "If the 33ft deep dry graving dock facing VSEL's Devonshire Dock Hall could talk it would have a few stories to tell of the ships painstakingly put together by craftsmen working at the dock over the years.

"Built for the Barrow Iron Shipbuilding Company in 1872 the sandstone dock could contain vessels up to a staggering 5,500 tons.

"The dock is 500ft long and 60ft wide at its entrance and was the cradle of some of the ships launched from Barrow.

"It was a hive of activity during the Second World War when destroyers and submarines were built surrounded by a cloak of secrecy for the war effort, but has witnessed the launching of other sea-going vessels.

"Visitors to the Dock Museum are dwarfed by the sheer size of the dock and scale of shipbuilding operations in the town."

Among items on show included a scale model of the City of Rome — built in 1881 — and the full-size prawning ship Nance which trawled Morecambe Bay for flat fish and prawns in all weathers.

Nance had been built in 1914 and had been got ready for display by the Furness ITEC boatbuilding workshop.

Team leader Richard Barnard said that a few weeks earlier the timbers of Nance had been in a pile on the museum floor.

The article noted: "In 1843 Barrow's population was just 350.

"When the shipbuilding and iron and steel industries had got under way by 1875 it had soared to 58,000 and in 1916 when townspeople were working to produce armaments for the war effort 61,000 people were living in the town.

"Barrow's history and life blood depended on shipbuilding and the skills which were passed on from father to son - and its fortunes depended on the success and demand for those skills."