Windermere Jetty Museum of Boats, Steam & Stories

Rayrigg Road, Windermere, LA23 1BN
Windermere Jetty Museum

Photo thanks to the Windermere Jetty Museum

In 2007, the Windermere Steamboat Museum on the shore of Windermere closed its doors for the last time. The museum’s collection and the buildings were obtained by the Lakeland Arts charitable trust with the aim of rebuilding and reopening the museum.

However, hampered by multiple floods that caused delays, redesigns, and increased costs, the project did not reach completion until March 2019, with the help of funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The museum is one of the first modern buildings to have been constructed on the shore of Windermere in decades, but inside it is brimming with heritage, with a collection of boats dating back 200 years.

Planning Your Visit

Contact Details:
01539 637940 / Website
Please see official website
Seasonal Opening:
March to Oct (10am to 5pm), Nov-Feb (10.30am to 4pm), Closed Christmas & Boxing Day


Margaret, 1780

Margaret, 1780 (Photo thanks to the Windermere Jetty Museum)

George Pattinson was a local builder and boat enthusiast who began collecting steam boats and other vessels during the 1940s. He often saved boats that were at risk of destruction, and even employed divers to help him lift boats from the bottom of the lake. In 1970, he helped to form the Windermere Nautical Trust.

In 1975, a sand wharf site on the shore of Windermere that was used for unloading gravel dredged from the lake bed closed its operations, and the trust purchased the site. The trust opened the Windermere Steamboat Museum in 1977. Visitors could see Pattinson’s collection here, and whilst the most fragile boats were kept indoors, many were stored on the jetty on the water and used for rides.

Unfortunately, faced with rising conservation costs most of the boats fell into disrepair and the museum closed in 2006. Thankfully, the Lakeland Arts Charitable Trust were able to rescue the collection in 2007 and place it into safe storage. Funding was obtained from the National Lottery and a conservation and restoration programme began. This programme continues to this day and visitors will be able to see ongoing restoration efforts.

Things to See

Windermere Jetty Boat

Windermere (Photo thanks to the Windermere Jetty Museum)

The museum’s buildings offer a mixture of large galleries and conservation workshops. In the galleries you will find a number of boats that have been preserved or restored, including the luxury steam boat Branksome, first built in 1896. Branksome was designed to suit the decadent tastes of the Victorian elite and during its service it carried both Prince Philip and Prince Charles.

Other boats on display in the galleries include Miss Windermere IV, a hydroplane built by world record breaking motorboat racing driver, Norman Buckley, Margaret, a sailing boat dating back to 1780 and thought to be the oldest of its kind in the UK, and Esperance, a yacht built in 1869 that was later converted into houseboat and was the inspiration behind the creation of Captain Flint’s houseboat in Arthur Ransom’s Swallows and Amazons.

Whilst at the museum visitors can book a Heritage Boat Trip. This is a short boat trip on a restored boat that is available exclusively to museum visitors, for an additional charge. Currently the museum has one boat that has been fully restored and able to offer these trips. Osprey was built in Bowness-On-Windermere in 1902 and is a classic steam launch that was originally built for a private owner but became a passenger boat in 1948, and later it was used by the Windermere Steamboat Museum to give rides to museum visitors.

Its long life in service took its toll and when the original museum closed Osprey needed significant repair work. Conservationists recreated decorative features and multiple repairs were made. It is anticipated that additional boats will be able to carry passengers once restoration work is complete. Finally, in the conservation workshop, visitors will be able to see restoration work in progress.

Useful Information

The museum has a café with fabulous views of the lake. The café benefits from an outdoor terrace for lakeside dining in the summer. The café can be accessed free of charge for those not visiting the museum. If you prefer to bring your own picnic, the museum has an outdoor picnic area.


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