Windermere Jetty Museum
: Museum of Boats, Steam and Stories
Location : Bowness-on-Windermere / Windermere lake
Windermere Jetty Museum of Boats, Steam and Stories is a brand new major Lake District attraction. It opened its doors in spring 2019 following a £20m development of the site of the former Windermere Steamboat Museum.
Things to see at Windermere Jetty
Windermere Jetty displays an internationally important collection of boats in a magnificent location overlooking Windermere lake. Visitors can learn about Windermere’s boats and the people that sailed in them.
In the main exhibition gallery you can see steam launches, sailing yachts, motor boats and record-breaking speed boats.
Vessels on the water in the Boathouse include Swallow and Amazon from the BBC film adaptation of Arthur Ransome’s classic book.
Live conservation takes place at the museum. You can see conservators restoring boats and ask them about their work.
Things to do at Windermere Jetty
A series of new jetties allow visitors to sail on Osprey (1902), one of the museum’s fully-restored Edwardian steam launches.
The museum has an extensive programme of family activities and trails, especially during school holidays. You can find their seasonal events in our What’s On in Windermere pages.
A Model Boating Pond is also part of the museum and people can bring along their mini boats to sail here for free.
Did you know that…?
The unique collection of historic steamboats and motorboats include the SL Dolly of 1850 – the oldest mechanically powered boat in the world, with its original engine still in running order.
Mrs Howarth of Langdale Chase commissioned a 50 foot teak coal fired launch, ‘The Lily’, later renamed ‘Branksome’, which is now at Windermere Jetty. Branksome carried HRH Prince Philip on his tour of the lake, during his visit in 1966, and HRH Prince Charles in 1977.
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, travelling 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.
Windermere Jetty Café
The museum café overlooks the lake and has one of the most stunning views in the Lake District and Cumbria.
An interesting and varied selection of delicious food is served throughout the day. Starting with a good choice of breakfasts to 11.30 am, followed by a menu of Jetty sandwiches, soups, quiche, salads, platters, cakes, bakes and ice creams.
The Building and Sustainability
Windermere Jetty is the first contemporary building on Windermere lake shore for over 50 years. It was designed by internationally recognised architects Carmody Groarke, working with engineers Arup, who were involved in the design and construction of the Sydney Opera House.
The Museum is a subtly impressive structure, hugging the lake shore with its black-oxidised copper clad walls and large cantilevered overhangs. Just as noteworthy is the energy efficiency and climate change resilience at the foundation of the design.
Image reproduced by kind permission of Arup
Visit Windermere Jetty
Opening hours 2023
April to October: Museum & Café 10.00 am to 5.00 pm
November to March: Museum 10.00 am to 4.00 pm | Café 10.00 am to 4.00 pm
Adult £9 | Child (under 16) £4.50 | Student £7 | Family (1 + 2 or 1 + 3) £15.50 | Family (2 + 2 or 2 + 3) £24.50 | Under 4 free |
Heritage Boat Trip
Adult £10 | Child (under 16) £5.00 | Under 4 free | Exclusive Trip (up to 12 people for 75 minutes) £195
- Address: Windermere Jetty, Rayrigg Road, Windermere, LA23 1BN
- Car Parking: FREE for visitors to the café and museum. When you pay for Museum admission or purchase in the café you’ll be given a voucher to tap into the parking machine on exit.
- Bus: from Bowness and Ambleside. View timetable
- By boat: some free mooring spaces are available to visitors to the museum and café. Maximum stay 3 hours. You must notify Windermere Jetty on arrival and provide contact details and SLDC boat registration number
- Windermere Lake Cruises: Red Route. From Bowness to Windermere Jetty only, no return available.
- Taxi services
Contact Windermere Jetty
- Tel: 01539 637940
- Email: [email protected]
- Website: windermerejetty.org
In 2007 the Windermere Steamboat Museum was taken over by the Lakeland Arts Trust, a local charity, in order to restore the collection and redevelop the site. Lakeland Arts also runs Abbot Hall Art Gallery, the Museum of Lakeland Life and Blackwell: The Arts & Crafts House.
- The Big Windermere Guide
- What’s On in the Lake District
- Places to Stay around Windermere
- All Lake District Accommodation
Grid Reference: SD 402978
Archive photos of Windermere Steamboat Museum
All the below images were taken in the old Windermere Steamboat Museum before the construction of the new Windermere Jetty Museum. All of the vessels are being, or have been, restored and / or preserved and can be seen at the new Museum, as well as many more interesting and historic craft.
All photos below by Julian Thurgood for Visit Cumbria
S.L Branksome (1896) Image circa 2003.
TSSY Esperance (1896) Image circa 2003.
SL Swallow (1911) Image circa 2003.
Beatrix Potter’s rowing boat. Image circa 2003.