Cumbria has always been proud of its heritage, a fact confirmed by the county’s museums which contain important historical details and exhibits from a proud past. Typical is the Museum of Lakeland Life in Kendal where the area’s industrial background is laid down in interesting detail. The museum is next door to Abbot Hall Art Gallery, one of the finest small art galleries in the country, housed in a Georgian mansion where there’s also a collection of furniture, paintings and objets d’art. But it’s the changing exhibitions of art over the last few years – works by Lucian Freud, Bridget Riley, Paula Rego, Stanley Spencer, Euan Uglow, Walter Richard Sickert, L S Lowry and David Bomberg – which have earned the gallery a well deserved national reputation. Abbot Hall is run by the Lakeland Arts Trust, the same body which looks after Blackwell (see Historic homes and castles) and the Windermere Steamboat Museum. After almost 30 years at Holker Hall, the Lakeland Motor Museum has a new home at Backbarrow at the southern end of Lake Windermere. The 30,000 or so exhibits of this wonderful attraction are now integrated with Windermere Lake Cruises and the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Steam Railway. The idea is that you should be able to take a steamer to Lakeside near Newby Bridge, hop on the train to Haverthwaite and get off at a new station close to the motor museum. Not far from Newby Bridge at Finsthwaite is the Stott Park Bobbin Mill, where in its heyday a quarter of a million bobbins a week were being turned out, mainly for the Lancashire textile mills. Stott Park reminds you that the Lake District wasn’t always a quiet sort of place because over the centuries it’s been home to industry of all kinds. In the past people have worked in mines, quarries, mills and tanning factories, as well as working on the land. A visit to the Ruskin Museum in Coniston, the Keswick Mining Museum, the Threlkeld Quarry and Mining Museum, Honister Slate Mine, the Cumberland Pencil Museum at Keswick and the Museum of Lakeland Life will help you understand the Cumbrian industrial heritage much more easily.
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