Christmas wrapping is on many minds at the moment. As I wielded ribbon and paper this weekend, I contemplated some of the wonderful and moving things we’ve packed and unpacked at the Windermere Steamboat Museum this year.
Recently we inspected parts from a logboat found in Kentmere. What a feeling to be (carefully…) handling objects from around 1300- 1320! Better still, we know that the unknown person who made this was at the absolute cutting edge of boat design; while just hollowing out a log to create a floating vessel was already tried and tested, this builder was pursuing innovation by inserting ribs and building up the sides to give greater freeboard and stability. It’s a first- hand insight into the very beginning of a design process lasting for centuries and reaching a pinnacle in the elegant perfection of our nineteenth century Windermere steam launches.
This beautiful gilded plaque commemorates the Windermere involvement in the adoption of Fleet Destroyer, HMS Undine in 1942. The Windermere passenger steamer, Tern, was also renamed Undine during the Second World War, when she was put to a new use as a cadet training vessel. It’s a poignant reminder of how leisure activity on Windermere was transformed by war and ordinary family lives disrupted.
Here’s further evidence of that change; this little model of a Sunderland flying boat was made by a worker at the Short Sunderland factory at White Cross Bay, where many local people were employed during the war. The full size Sunderland flying boats that they produced would have momentarily dwarfed all other Windermere vessels, before taking off for military service around the world. This tiny chap is about 200 times smaller than the real thing.
For those with seasonal amounts of food and drink on the mind, what about these? I can’t decide whether I’d rather unwrap Colonel Ridehalgh’s chunky, personalised dinner service from his 1879 steam yacht Britannia, or this stylish Palissy ‘blue regatta’ tea set from some 70 years later. Which would you rather find under the tree on Christmas morning?