Shop ’til You Drop has seen us working with Year 10 GSCE Graphic Products students. The students were presented with a live brief, which asks them to research and produce a product which can be sold in the Museum’s shop, using Windermere Jetty as their client. Following an introduction to the Museum, students were able to talk through the brief for the project, including:
the target audience, children aged 6-9 years old
where the product will be sold, in the Windermere Jetty shop
product price, pocket money priced items
the materials required to make the product
Following an introduction and time to do some initial research, the students came to Windermere Jetty for a site visit.
Each student has researched what other museums sell in their shops, generated ideas of what they would like to develop and have chosen two products to focus their attention on. You can see examples of the group’s work below.
The project is now coming to a close as we approach the Christmas holidays. The group has shown a high level engagement with the project and the school is planning on running the project as part of the next course starting in September 2017.
The steam launch Britannia, built on the Clyde in 1879 for local landowner Col. Ridehalgh, was the largest private steam yacht on Windermere. Ridehalgh’s previous steam yacht Fairy Queen had been the largest until he had Britannia built to replace it. This passion for ostentatious boats earned him the nickname ‘the king of the lake’.
Britannia’s interior was as luxurious as the finest private houses. Descriptions in the press at the time of her launch give us an idea of what she must have looked like; ‘overhead lights of stained glass, one of Windsor Castle, the other of Her Majesty’s Highland residence…woodcarving in which the rose is intertwined with the thistle to form a suitable setting for the windows…panelling in polished Hungarian oak and walnut surmounted by a rich gilt cornice…crimson velvet cushioned couches round the apartment.’
The single surviving skylight, which is now in our collection, gives an idea of the quality of craftsmanship on board.
When Britannia was broken up in 1919 the skylight was rescued and used in a greenhouse, before being installed into the ceiling of the old museum building.
The skylight is made of teak and glass. Many of the panes of painted glass were missing or broken. The surviving original painted glass is being restored by Lancashire Conservation Studios, and the missing panes will be replaced with replicas. Old joints and repairs to the timber frame are being replaced with teak in keeping with the original.
The entire structure will be supported on a steel frame to be suspended from the ceiling in the new museum building so that once again visitors to Windermere can be impressed by Col. Ridehalgh’s taste for luxury.
The Windermere Jetty curatorial team and volunteers have been hard at work behind the scenes making sure that the small object collection is ready for its new home in the displays of the Windermere Jetty Museum in 2017. Our focus at the moment is on getting the objects cleaned – but not too clean! One of the challenges with cleaning items in any museum collection is to find a balance between removing recent and potentially damaging dirt while keeping evidence of its historic use. To do this we have asked several professional conservators to give us advice on their field of expertise, and back in July 2015 we were visited by Yvette Fletcher from the Leather Conservation Centre. Yvette spent a great couple of days with our volunteers, teaching everyone about how leather was made and running a practical conservation cleaning workshop. Since then our team has been tackling leather with a lot of care and a lot more confidence.
Every so often you find an object that needs to go for professional conservation and Yvette and her team at the Leather Conservation Centre have also been working hard to restore the original leather covered seat cushions from SL Branksome. Part of the Windermere Jetty collection, Branksome was built in 1896 by Brockbanks of Windermere and was the height of luxury. Unfortunately her cushions, seen in place in the photograph below, were showing the wear and tear of being over a hundred years old.
The leather on the cushions was in poor condition, and there were previous patched repairs, buttons and a pink textile lining which were causing further damage to the original leather. The cushion had also burst open, with broken stitching in some places and splits in other parts.
Inside the cushion was also showing signs of wear as the textile covering the original horsehair padding had deteriorated and was splitting in a number of places. A decision was made to make new covers and fit them over the original damaged ones. This method of conserving the inner cushions was chosen because it preserves all the existing original materials and techniques.
Yvette and her team used the same methods that would have been employed originally. They used a fine 100% unbleached cotton textile for the tops and bottoms, with a thicker more closely woven 100% unbleached cotton for the sides to give more definition.
All the pieces of the new cover were sewn together, leaving an opening at one end to insert the original cushion
The new cover needed to larger than you might think. The extra space is taken up when the cover is tufted and the mattress stitched. The stiches from tufting hold everything together and stop the stuffing inside from moving.
The conserved cushion is now ready to be placed back inside the leather covers once these have been conserved. Yvette will be giving us more updates on the conservation of the Branksome cushions, so do keep checking back for news.
Watching the site transform into the new Windermere Jetty museum over the next 18 months is going to be an amazing spectacle and the changes that have already happened over recent months have been fantastic to see.
The original museum buildings housed the collection of boats for nearly 30 years so demolishing them in 2014 was a major milestone. When the buildings came down it opened up the shoreline revealing the incredible views across Windermere to every passer by and is a good reminder of how special this location is.
Thomas Armstrong Construction, who have been appointed as the main contractor, began work in November 2015 spending their first weeks preparing the site and setting up their team. The first job was then to start preparing the ground including a crucial part of the flood defence strategy – building up the levels of the new museum. Alongside this we’re also digging down to create the conservation workshop and boatyard area and can see this taking shape now. This will lead to the slipway, a key part of the new museum that will enable us to bring boats in and out of the water for regular maintenance.
Construction site set-up
Ground preparations for the new conservation workshop
Groundworks continue for all the museum buildings
We’ll be posting regular updates as the project continues so keep coming back to see progress over the coming weeks and find out more about what’s going on behind the scenes. You can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram.
In June, Roger Mallinson travelled in his 1931 Austin Seven to historic Brooklands to receive a Lifetime Achievement award from the Transport Trust. The award, presented by Prince Michael of Kent, was for Roger’s work with historic steam vessels, notably 1906 SL Shamrock.
Shamrock was built by Nathaniel Shepherd of Bowness-on-Windermere for wealthy Manchester textile manufacturer, W M Birtwistle, and run by his boatman, Charles Ashley, who continued operating and maintaining her after Birtwistle’s death. She passed to Ashley’s son, Billy, one of the founders of the Bowness Bay Boating Company, but a period of commercial use led to the loss of her original Sisson of Gloucester triple expansion steam engine and conversion to a motorboat running on TVO. By the time Roger purchased her in 1976, she was dilapidated, but he lovingly restored her to steam and her former glory. When the 2009 floods caused devastating damage to Shamrock’s highly complex clerestory coach roof, Roger was faced – yet again – with the prospect of a major restoration programme. The Shamrock Trust was formed, with a view to ensuring Shamrock’s long-term future.
Many people have enjoyed the privilege of a trip on Shamrock or a chat with Roger – who willingly shares his knowledge of historic Windermere vessels. Less visibly, we also benefit enormously in the workshop from his engineering expertise, which has enabled us to restore Osprey’s highly significant historic engine for operational use and to develop engineering operation and maintenance programmes for collection vessels. His energy and passion for understanding and making things work, preserving historic material and passing on knowledge and skills really does inspire all of us.
Roger has also been awarded this year’s Marsh Volunteer Award for Historic Vessel Conservation in partnership with National Historic Ships.
We were thrilled to announce in July that we have been successful in our bid for £9.4 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund. This news, coupled with receiving planning permission from the Lake District National Park in June means the project to create fantastic new museum facilities can now be delivered.
Lakeland Arts has raised an enormous £3 million in match funding over the last two years and now only needs a further £300,000 to reach the final target. The support for the project has been overwhelming and we were pleased to be able to thank many of our supporters on an evening cruise around Windermere on MV Swan, courtesy of Windermere Lake Cruises.
We also launched our One Million for the Museum Endowment campaign to raise £500,000 by 2016. For more information on how to give visit the website.
What better way to celebrate the successes of the project than taking part in the Heritage Open Day scheme and welcoming hundreds of visitors to the Museum to get a taster of the future.
This was our fourth Heritage Open Day and it’s proving to be the most popular and exciting opportunity to visit the collection and meet the team. The site was buzzing with activity and the sights, sounds and smells of historic launches. The conservation team was on hand to provide an insight into the complex conservation work taking place and the specialist skills required to look after such an important collection of historic vessels.
There were guided tours of the collection with the Curator, delving into the themes and stories that will be brought to life in the exhibitions and displays in the new Museum. A behind the scenes peek into archival material, including historic photographs and small objects, also gave visitors the opportunity to share their own memories and experiences on the lake.
One of the many highlights of the day was the chance to take a trip on an historic steam launch; SL Shamrock and SL Mosquito visited the museum for the day taking nearly 100 visitors for a special trip on the lake in the glorious September sun. Visitors of all ages enjoyed the activities on offer and we look forward to welcoming them back to the new Museum now the project is moving full steam ahead.
To find out about the next opportunity to visit, see our website.