Attraction in Coniston

Ruskin Museum, Coniston, Cumbria

Ruskin Museum
Yewdale Road

LA21 8DU
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The Rough Guide to the Lake District [all editions] praises ‘Coniston’s superb museum’ as ‘the most thought-provoking in the Lakes’ for its inspirational and award-winning telling of The Story of Coniston from the first Stone Age fell-walkers, who made and traded stone axes, to the Jet Era when the 1950s speed ace Donald Campbell used Coniston Water as Bluebird K7’s race-track.

The Ruskin Museum introduces 500 million year old rocks, and one of the first Rock Bands, who played musical stones; examines the mines that helped to copper-bottom Naval and merchant wooden ships, and the slate quarries that have roofed the world; studies the dry-stone and cobble walls that stride the fells, and looks at the truth to local stone, slate and oak exemplified in traditional vernacular buildings. Coniston is Herdwick country – black lambs, grey sheep with smiling white faces, and an intriguing mix of Celtic and Norse heritage - a hardy native breed whose fleece made John Peel’s ‘coat so grey’. The breed was much-loved by Beatrix Potter, who owned farms in the parish.

Coniston is also Swallows and Amazons country. Arthur Ransome fictionalised the lake and The Old Man [The Matterhorn/Kanchenjunga], borrowed Peel Island’s secret harbour for Wild Cat Island, and SY Gondola for Captain Flint’s houseboat, and used the copper-mines and slate-quarries as the context for Pigeon Post . His readers will discover in the museum the sailing dinghy Mavis, the inspiration of the fictional Amazon, complete with centre-board.

A new extension, The Bluebird Wing, has been built as the future home of Donald Campbell’s iconic hydroplane Bluebird K7, once the wreckage from the fatal crash in 1967 has been conserved and rebuilt to operative condition, [see :]. This gallery contains extensive displays of memorabilia, a large-screen photographic presentation, touch-screen inter-actives with much background information, the Bristol-Siddeley Orpheus engine that was in the lake for 34 years, and Donald Campbell’s pension plan, the prototype Bluebird JetStar ski-boat.

The Ruskin Museum holds the most comprehensive display in the Lake District about the life and work of John Ruskin [1819 – 1900], who had one of the most profound and influential minds of the Victorian age, becoming the greatest pundit on aesthetics and ethics in the English-speaking world. He was a superb watercolourist and draughtsman, who worked out most of his ideas visually, through drawing in almost forensic detail – seeing clearly the links between the structure of crystals and the mountains they formed; art and buildings in relation to the society that bred them; the environmental, ecological and moral pollution of the Industrial Revolution and the greed under-pinning Capitalism - and teaching a once blind people how to think and plan for a fairer and more sustainable future.


Months Open: March until November
Groups/Parties Welcome: Yes - Please pre-book
Discount for Groups: Yes

More Attractions nearby

Steam Yacht Gondola (0.55 miles)

Brantwood (2.03 miles)

Grizedale Forest (2.92 miles)

Beatrix Potter Gallery (3.09 miles)

Hawkshead Grammar School (3.14 miles)

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