The Steamboat Museum at Windermere

Location : Bowness-on-Windermere  –  Grid Reference: SD 402978

Rayrigg Rd, Bowness, Windermere, LA23 1BN. Tel 015394 45565 Fax 015394 88486
The museum is currently closed for renovation.  See their website for more information –


S.L Branksome (1896)

Set in a magnificent location in the heart of Lakeland, Windermere Steamboat Museum houses a unique collection of historic steamboats and motorboats, including the SL Dolly of 1850 – the oldest mechanically powered boat in the world, with its original engine still in running order.


TSSY Esperance (1896)

There is also the recently restored TSSY Esperance, the model for Captain Flint’s houseboat in Arthur Ransome‘s Swallows and Amazons. It was owned by Henry Schneider, chairman of the Barrow Steelworks, who lived at what is now the Belsfield Hotel overlooking Bowness Bay. Every morning he left home, travelled on the Esperance, on which he had breakfast on his way to Lakeside. There he would travel by train in his private carriage (he owned the railway too) to his job in Barrow !
Mrs Howarth of Langdale Chase commissioned a 50 foot teak coal fired launch, ‘The Lily’, later renamed ‘Branksome’, which is now at the museum (See top picture). Branksome carried HRH Prince Philip on his tour of the lake, during his visit in 1977.


SL Swallow (1911) – currently undergoing major restoration

In 2007 the museum was taken over by the Lakeland Arts Trust, a local charity, in order to restore the collection and redevelop the site. It is not currently open to visitors as work is ongoing on the collection.
The Lakeland Arts Trust plans a major redevelopment of the site to create a series of new buildings to house the boats and a conservation unit where they will be restored and maintained.
The Lakeland Arts Trust also runs Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Blackwell and the Museum of Lakeland Life.


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