Windermere Steamboat Museum gets £9.4m lottery boost

SL Dolly
Image caption The SL Dolly is thought to be the oldest mechanically powered boat in the world

A project to house some of the oldest surviving boats in the world at a purpose-built museum in the Lake District has received a £9.4m boost.

The Windermere Steamboat Museum collection includes vessels dating back to the 13th Century and what is reputed to be the world's oldest mechanically-powered boat, the SL Dolly.

The Heritage Lottery Fund grant means the Lakeland Arts Trust now has the £13.4m needed to build a new museum.

Work is due to be completed in 2015.

New facilities will include a wet dock, where visitors will see boats displayed on the water, a conservation workshop and new jetties.

It is estimated the project will create about 90 jobs when the site, which is currently closed, reopens.

'Culturally distinctive'

Gordon Watson, chief executive of the Lakeland Arts Trust, said: "Immediate steps are to complete design development so that construction can start next year.

"We are looking forward to reopening the museum and welcoming visitors to enjoy the wonderful collection of Windermere boats and take part in exciting new activities and events inspired by the collections and beautiful site."

Image caption The collection comprises more than 40 vessels

Tiffany Hunt, of the Heritage Lottery Fund, added: "This wonderful collection of historic boats is now set to be housed in a new and sustainable museum, spectacularly located on Windermere.

"We felt strongly that this was a great opportunity to invest a significant amount of money in an area that relies heavily on tourism as well as reveal the social histories behind the local boatbuilding industry.

"Equally important will be opportunities for people to acquire traditional skills and get involved with caring for these steamboats, which are such a culturally distinctive part of Cumbria's landscape."

The museum's collection of more than 40 vessels, also includes:

• Two dugout boats dating from between 1200 and 1320 AD showing the earliest form of boat construction

• Five yachts charting sailing on the lake from the 18th Century to late 20th Century

• An 1870 Windermere ferry boat and copper ore barge

• Beatrix Potter's tarn boat that she used to sketch in on Moss Eccles Tarn

• Other material including archives, photographs, paintings and costumes

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