Windermere Jetty is the biggest and most striking new visitor attraction to open in the Lake District in decades, and definitely worth a visit when you’re in the area.
Built at a cost of £20 million and officially opened in April 2019 by HRH Prince Charles, the Jetty describes itself as Windermere’s museum of boats, steam and stories.
The awe-inspiring buildings resemble a collection of traditional boat building sheds, but on a massive scale; and the location is sensational, sitting on the lake shoreline just north of Bowness and enjoying incomparable views of England’s largest lake.
Inside you’ll find one of the world’s most important collections of vintage steamboats, racing boats, sailing and rowing boats; all connected to the lake and the people who worked and played on it.
You’ll see static displays of classic boats and memorabilia in the main exhibition hall, whilst the boathouse is home to the collection of vessels which are still afloat and in full working order; and don’t miss the conservation workshop where you can watch the craftsmen and women busy with the ongoing job of restoring and maintaining these beautiful craft.
Some of the highlights
The centrepiece of the static display is the Branksome, built in 1896 and regarded as one of the world’s finest surviving steam launches. Almost every detail is completely original, and provides a close up glimpse of the luxurious lifestyle of the Victorian gentry.
Normally, people built a boat and then buy an engine to fit it; but the original owner of the Canfly did it the other way round. He bought a massive Rolls Royce engine which originally powered a WW1 airship, and then built the boat around it. Needless to say, in its heyday in the 1920’s, this thing was pretty quick!
Margaret, dating from around 1780, is believed to be the oldest sailing yacht in the UK. She was found in 1934 being used as a chicken shed, and after some negotiations the owner agreed to swap her for some new roofing sheets.
Jane is a stunning example of a 1937 Chris Craft two-seater speedboat. Immaculately preserved, Jane is still afloat and can often be seen out on the lake.
Built in 1902 just a stone’s throw from the museum, Osprey is another classic steam launch which has been restored to operational duties and adapted to comply with modern safety standards, so visitors can take a scenic trip around the lake as part of their experience.
So much to see
It’s impossible to list everything in the museum, but if you’re intrigued by things like Beatrix Potter’s rowing boat, a steam kettle that can boil 5 litres of water in 10 seconds, one of the oldest mechanically propelled boats in the world, or the little boats that were used in the filming of Swallows & Amazons, along with a very excellent café and stunning views, then the Windermere Jetty needs to be on your to-do list.
Visit the Windermere Jetty website and plan your visit.