Shop ’til You Drop

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.

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Fragments of Luxury

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.’[1]

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.

[1] Westmorland Gazette, 28th June, 1879

Sitting Pretty – conserving SL Branksome’s seat cushions

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.

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The Windermere Jetty team learning about  leather damage with Yvette Fletcher

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.

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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.

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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.

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Windermere Jetty – construction progress

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.

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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.

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.