Tuesday, 26 March 2013

A sister for Peggy?

The Windermere Steamboat Museum  lies on the southern shore of Lake Windermere in the English Lake District. Founded by George Pattinson and built up by him over the course of the last century, it houses a remarkable and significant collection of small freshwater craft. The collection is very important to the Peggy story because it includes a yacht, Margaret, of roughly the same size and possibly even older than Peggy herself (click here to find out more).
Margaret was one of two very early yachts 'discovered' in an abandoned dock in 1934. Unfortunately only Margaret survives although there remains an archive photograph of the two together. Because the boats were found on lands belonging to the Curwen family and had been there for as long as anyone could remember, a link to the Curwen family was firmly asserted in an article on the two yachts by W.M. Blake that appeared in Yachting Monthly in January 1935. This is where, from our perspective, the story gets really interesting...
When George Quayle took Peggy across the sea and overland to Windermere to race in the 1796 regatta, he stayed with the Christian-Curwen family on Belle Isle on the lake. It is therefore at least possible that Margaret is one of the boats against which Peggy was victorious on that famous occasion  (as George wrote to his brother, "Modesty prevents my saying who bears the Bell").

Isle of Man National Archive MS2414C
 George Quayle's letter to his brother from Belle Isle, Lake Windermere, 22nd August 1796. Isle of Man National Archive MS2414C

Quayle made the journey to Windermere along with another boat called Margaret, piloted by his friend Capt. Bacon. The Windermere Margaret is obviously not the one mentioned in Quayle's letters since he clearly describes the return of that boat to the Isle of Man (IOMNA MS 00940.5.C)
The Margaret now owned by the Windermere Steamboat Museum no longer retains any of her paint, spars or sails. While the date ascribed to her seems fair on stylistic grounds, the evidence for her true identity is currently circumstantial. It's possible that the ambitious renovation of the Windermere Steamboat Museum that is currently underway will provide the context for a thorough examination of her archaeology, age, and documentary background.

No comments:

Post a Comment