PRINCE Charles officially opened it, TV’s Fern Britton raved about it and it’s made a splash with a boat-load of awards.

Windermere Jetty Museum of Boats, Steam and Stories was a £20 million arrival on the shores of Windermere in spring 2019.

Cumbria’s newest museum has since welcomed more than 45,000 people in its first eight months. The museum - a five-minute walk from Bowness - tells the story of 200 years of boats, boating and boat building in the Lake District through an internationally significant collection of vessels.

Liz Moss, chief operating officer of Lakeland Arts, said: “It’s been really exciting to open this fabulous new museum in 2019. We’ve had a fantastic time welcoming visitors who have travelled everywhere from Bowness to Brisbane.

“We now have a growing local audience making repeat visits - to the museum and also our wonderful lake shore café. We are also seeing a few more international tourists who are slowly starting to hear about us.

“Obviously the new museum was several years in the making. The old Steamboat Museum closed in 2007. I think any challenge for a new attraction is letting people know about you.

“We’ve been lucky in being able to work with such great partners like Windermere Lake Cruises - who have a new stop at our jetties - and other stakeholders. They have helped us spread the message that we are here and open.”

Liz continued:

“We’ve learned a lot in the first few months. We listened to customer feedback about parking. We had initially charged for parking but changed that following visitor comments. Parking is now free to museum and café visitors.”

At Windermere Jetty, visitors can see boat restoration in action. Each day at 11am conservators talk about the work they are undertaking, and there are daily trips on board Osprey, a 117-year-old steam launch.

Conservation work at the museum so good, it is winning awards. The museum recently won the National Historic Ships UK Martyn Heighton Award for excellence in maritime conservation.

Senior conservation boat builder Stephen Beresford said: “It’s recognition of all the hard work that’s gone into conserving the boat collection and recognises our amazing team of highly capable people.

“It also highlights the innovative, cutting-edge conservation techniques we use and puts us on the map as a major player in maritime conservation.”

Windermere Jetty also won Design of the Year and Cultural Project of the Year at the Architects’ Journal Architecture Awards in November. “Our concept for Windermere Jetty was to create a museum that, while sensitive to its magnificent location, was also bold and visionary," said Liz Moss of Lakeland Arts, "an outstanding visitor experience that met the complex requirements of our historic boat collection.

“A key element was to preserve and enhance views across Windermere and connect our collection to the lake and the landscape. We worked with an expert team of designers, engineers and specialists, led by architects Carmody Groarke.”

The museum’s learning programme was launched by BBC Countryfile presenter Helen Skelton.

Natasha Scullion, learning officer for schools and families, said: “It’s been fantastic to welcome schools to Windermere Jetty through 2019; we’ve had pupils of all ages being inspired by the collection and location.

“Sessions around Victorians, boat design and investigating the ecology of the lake have been the most popular. We can’t wait to work with more schools in 2020.”

For under-fives a new Water Babies session runs every Wednesday morning during termtime. These fun, creative and multi-sensory sessions encourage expression, exploration, language and movement.

A major theme throughout the museum in 2020 will be Swallows and Amazons. There will be family activities, film screenings and performances of the classic Arthur Ransome story.