Updated: Nov 27, 2022
My first visit to the Lake District and to Windermere and Bowness.
The joy of the Lakeland landscape quickly disappears in the tourist chaos of the towns themselves. Rapid escape to Bowness Bay and by a wonderful serendipity a personal discovery of The Windermere Jetty - The museum of boats, steam and stories.
The silence in the cove and a placid lake under a hazy sunshine restored some calm in this visitor. The instant harmony of this fine grouping of buildings did the rest. A place of some spirituality from the tall elegant grasses of the new landscape through the oriental imagery from the five simple buildings grouped on the edge of the lake around a disused yard and quayside.
This collection gathered by George Pattison in 1977 exhibits some of the finest pieces of marine engineering from early steam days some of it built in Bowness yards, through to a replica of Henry Seagraves Miss England II and a 1950’s Michigan built Chris-Craft.
Given this array of precision boatbuilding an enclosure of similar qualities, if not expected, is anticipated and this piece of fine cabinet making doesn’t let one down. A real joy to experience first-hand.
Five groupings of portal frames enclosed in a plywood skin and softwood ribbing beautifully set out and giving the impression of inverted hulls with keels exposed. The dark bronze almost black copper cladding dissembles as assumptions of corrugated coated metal are replaced by glimpses of a turquoise copper-sulphate toned patina from a richly textured copper cladding over walls and roofs, which together with the overhangs to certain roof eaves suggests an oriental influence.
These huge overhangs provide shelter to entrances seating areas and external exhibits; and remarkably, by virtue of only one truly eloquent vertical defining the distance between this horizontal plane and the ground, frame some truly sublime views across the lake.
Internally the structure and framing are beautiful in an engineered construction of mathematical precision almost totally exposed in the museum collection on land and in dock. Elsewhere, in the ubiquitous visitor areas, fine cabinetmaking in a variety of softwoods changes the scale and provides tactility where it is needed.
The floor in panels of polished concrete is astonishing in its consistency of flatness, gloss and colour. All of which made this visitor smile. And an achievement which should not be dismissed. This is an extremely well-made building on which lots of love and attention to detail have been lavished in bringing it to fruition.
The building was completed in 2019 although with the isolation of the last two years must be nearly new. The architects are Carmody Groarke but I am sure were ably supported on this project by great clients and a collaborative design and construction team. It wouldn’t have happened otherwise.