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Windermere Steamboat Centre is located on a former sand wharf site where, for many years, barges unloaded gravel dredged from the bed of the lake. When this operation ceased in 1975, the Windermere Nautical Trust acquired the use of the site and the Centre was built in 1976-77 with the help of The Maritime Trust and the English Tourist Board.
Steam Launch Otto - 1896 It is appropriate that Windermere should possess a unique and historical collection of boats. Throughout history the lake has witnessed the imprint of almost every generation. The Romans used the lake from their camp, Galava, at Waterhead and in the Middle Ages monks found sanctuary on St Mary's Holme. Like the monks, the communities around Windermere used the lake as a source of food and transport.
With the advent of the Industrial Revolution many enterprising engineers in the North West were quick to take advantage of a large freshwater lake for their experiments and pleasure. Their ingenuity was soon followed by an enthusiasm among the local gentry and a world of elegant fashion centred on the weekend steamer and tea parties. The ladies competed as much with their dresses and parasols as the gentlemen with their steamboats. The Windermere Nautical Trust is particularly fortunate in being able to represent the key stages in the development of steam launches on Windermere. The oldest, S.L. Dolly shows the primitive application of steam power and is unique, having been salvaged after 67 years on a lake bed.
A Steamboat Wetdock has been built over the original quay and accommodates up to 15 boats mostly still in working order. The 'Windermere' building includes displays of Windermere speed craft, Beatrix Potter's rowing boat and a special area set aside for the 'Swallows & Amazons' Exhibition. Adjacent is a shop where a well stocked range of books, souvenirs and information on the displays can be obtained. There is also a lecture theatre which is available for private hire, a Tea Room serving hot & cold drinks, and a selection of delicious savoury snacks and cakes, an outside picnic area by the lake and a model boat pond. Fifty minute public steamboat trips are available throughout the season, weather permitting and private charters can be arranged for special occasions with catering optional and to suit all tastes.
The perfect place for a family day out whatever the weather.
There is good pushchair and wheelchair access to all the Visitor Centre and most of the grounds.
30 acres of gardens and grounds, designed by Thomas Mawson 1898.
Formal Edwardian. Terraced garden with: Clipped box and yew hedges Spring bulbs, rhododendrons and azaleas, magnolias and camellias Herbaceous and mixed borders Old fashioned and shrub roses Wildflower meadow Kitchen garden with fruit, vegetables, herbs and cut flowers
The acid soils and unusually mild microclimate mean that Brockhole gardens are the place to see unusual plants such as Eucryphias, Desontaniea (Chilean Holly), Cupressus cashmeriana (Kashmir cypress, Crinodendron hookerianum (Chilean lantern tree) and many more The gardens are managed using environmentally friendly techniques including composting, recycling of materials and the minimal use of pesticides, peat and water resources They are home to a wide variety of birds and wildlife and are open 365 days of the year from dawn til dusk.