The Ruskin Museum, Coniston

by David Murray on 28 December 2009

in Attractions, Coniston Water, craft industries, John Ruskin, Lace making, Museums, People

The Ruskin Museum has developed considerably over the years that I have known it. Nowadays it covers a wide range of local themes and deals extensively with the lives of two great men, from very different spheres of activity, associated with Coniston in the English Lake District.

John Ruskin, the eminent nineteenth century literary and artistic figure, lived for many years at Brantwood across Coniston Water from the village. Ruskin was extremely influential in his support of traditional craft industries. He is strongly associated with the small lace industry of the area, which is one of the museum’s themes. John Ruskin died in 1900 and is buried in the village churchyard (I put photographs of the Ruskin monument in an earlier post).

Donald Campbell was very different. He was a mid-twentieth century speed enthusiast, breaking world records many times both on land and water. Coniston was host to many of his water-speed record attempts, and it was here that he died when his boat Bluebird II somersalted at high speed. He is buried in the new area of the village graveyard.

The achievements of both men are extensively portrayed in the Ruskin Museum, tucked in behind the buildings of Yewdale Road. Other major themes are the ancient local industries of copper mining and slate quarrying, as well as the distinctive stone walls of the Lake District field and fells.

During summer months the Ruskin Museum is open from 10:00am to 5:30pm, but in the winter may have shorter hours so do check before travelling far.

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