The nation's most important steam powered boat collection
The Lake District has seen some water speed record breaking activity in its time both at Coniston Water (300 mph) and on Lake Windermere and one such feat has been the fastest boat to ever grace its waters, Miss Windermere IV which reached the record breaking speed of 155 MPH for its class of boat. A speed not surpassed on the lake since.
It's with history in mind and record breaking as well as the dawn of steam powered boats that The Windermere steamboat museum was initiated to house the nation's most important steam powered boat collection, thanks to a generous donation by the founder's family.
The collection of boats housed at the Windermere steamboat Centre are of Victorian and Edwardian steam powered ships, steam powered launches and steam powered yachts and is one of the biggest collections of its kind. As well as steam powered and petrol based motor boats, there are boats from the 13th century and the last 800 years displayed for public viewing, some of which in working order.
As well as the boats there is also a wide range of associated paraphernalia that act as an archive of boating history in England and boat building in and around lake Windermere over a two hundred year span.
At the Windermere Steamboat centre it is also possible to hear oral recordings and watch films which detail the boats visually and let you know more about their past owners and the boats usage, alongside photographs and paintings, tools of the trade as well as tools to operate and maintain the boats themselves and period costume to illuminate the boating story at Lake Windermere further.
Several historic boats of note which can be found at the Windermere Steamboat Centre are the Steam Launch Osprey which first set sail in 1902, this magnificent boat has been full restored and thanks to lottery funding, many others will be also.
To understand the lake District's connection with steam powered history is to understand technology today and the toys of the rich. Entrepreneurs and rich people took advantage of new technology and in the 1850s Lake Windermere became trial spots for steam powered technology and its this history and youthful inventing to be better than thy neighbour which the Windermere Steamboat Centre wishes to illuminate.
The museum is currently closed after receiving funding to help revamp and recondition the museum, and add new buildings to the Windermere steamboat centre to give more of the historic steam powered boats a home and protection.
There is also ongoing conservation and maintenance being made to all of the Windermere steamboats and various other boats, repairs and restoration with a select few boats being fully restored so as to be sailed and used again.
Much like cars, boats intrigue and whether they're motor boats from twenty years ago or a Steam Launch from 1896, they speak leisure, fame and fortune and each have their own story to tell, whether as private vessels for luxury sailing or as carriers of passengers between Bowness and Ambleside. A visit to the Windermere Steamboat Centre will invigorate and enlighten a passion for historic boating achievements.