Our brief was to create a cleaning plan that would help staff keep on top of some of the more awkward cyclical tasks, as well as routine dust removal from more visible and accessible flat surfaces. It also needed the flexibility to adapt to Covid and post-Covid times.
A few days of Hog & Fitch hands-on cleaning was essential in order to inform the development of the plan. It felt really good to get up close to some of our favourite vessels again and spend time seeing how visitors interacted with the collection. This was also a chance to discuss some tricky dilemmas with the collections team and just help out a bit with a mammoth task.
Cleaning historic vessels is not straightforward. Requirements can be very different, depending on the level of conservation and whether the vessel is operational or not. Boats also include some unusual and surprisingly fragile materials and endless awkward nooks and crannies. Access isn’t always easy and you need your sea legs and a degree of agility if you’re working afloat! All in all, it’s certainly much more than just whipping the dreaded brasso out for a shipshape shine (and just to be clear, no, we DON'T use brasso).
There’s also the question of keeping the whole building clean, too, particularly on ledges and low corners where dust tends to collect. And, naturally, access isn’t easy. There are high open spaces, a spectacular display of speedboats right up to the top of one wall - and an enormous glider up in the ceiling, spanning the whole width of the gallery.
We completed the plan but we’ll be back as visitors again and again. If you haven’t yet been to Windermere Jetty, do drop in whenever lockdown allows. The collection is truly special and we loved working in the spectacular lakeside location even more than we did when it was a muddy building site.
Sitting outside with the laptop, coffee and cake wasn’t merely a question of social distancing; it was just very, very hard to leave that spectacular view of England’s most iconic lake.
All images by Hog & Fitch Reproduced with thanks to Lake Land Arts
From top: elegant Windermere vessels on display, with a view out to the lake; wide range of materials and types of object in open store, including rooflight from lost vessel Britannia; the museum houses a wide range of Windermere vessels, including steam launches, sailing vessels and speedboats; the plan also had to cover large vessels and vessel parts and associated artefacts in the open store (2 images); the cleaning plan tackled reduction of dust levels in the building and deep cleaning tasks to ensure less accessible objects still received regular attention (2 images); vessels are in very different stages of conservation so need different cleaning approaches; fragile vessels include early sailing yacht, Margaret, and 1930s speed boat, White Lady (2 images); a further challenge is posed by floating vessels, as manoeuvring cleaning equipment safely on and off a small and glamorous floating motorboat is not always easy (3 images)!; hard work rewarded at the ultimate table with a view