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Backers of a museum telling the story of navigation on the Thames have made a bid for £2.5 million funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Plans are under way to build the Thames Heritage Boat Museum at Beale Park near Pangbourne in Berkshire – approved after a long battle with planners.

The Tamesis Trust has been set up to deliver the museum project with trustees who have a wide range of experience  from museum curation and management to restoration and conservation work.

Brian Smith chairman of The Tamesis Trust said: "This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to establish a high class museum in a lovely part of the Thames Valley to exhibit and explain the diverse history of the Thames navigation. There are no other museums covering the fascinating story [of what]  has taken place on the Thames over the last 200 years".

The museum aims to tell the navigation story of the Thames starting with the very first uses of mechanical propulsion during the 1800's to present times, the effects these changes had on the river navigation, the surrounding communities and its boat builders.

Historic Thames craft will be on display complimented with a wide variety of early machinery and other artefacts.  On site there will be specialist workshop facilities, as well as an archive department to house historic document collections for future research.

Local MP Richard Benyon, a keen supporter of the project, stated that "The history of the River Thames is a much undervalued part of our nation's heritage”.
 
A successful HLF grant does not fund the whole project, so substantial partnership contributions will also be needed, and work to raise these has already been started. The Trust are keen to consider additional potential exhibits or archives suitable for the museum display.

The Museum's proposed key exhibits will be:-


Cygnet (left) is an open launch built in 1870, probably the oldest completely original surviving river steam launch in the world.

Donola (centre) a saloon launch built in 1894 for Mr Palmer of the famous Reading Biscuit manufacturers Huntley & Palmer; she later became the Thames Conservancy's Inspection launch until the late 1960s. Donola was featured in the 1956 film adaptation of Jerome K. Jerome's 'Three Men In A Boat
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Consuta (right) is an Umpire's launch built 1898 by S.E. Saunders just 2 miles from the location of the new museum will take her place as a working exhibit. Constructed of a revolutionary new plywood stitched together using copper wire, patented as 'Consuta Plywood' was a plywood that remained in use for over 50 years until waterproof glues were introduced.

A first round lottery application has been submitted for a decision in January. If successful the museum would be open for the 2019 season. For more information and a chance to look at some of the museum details check out the Tamesis Trust website at www.tamesis.org.uk

Watch video of proposed proposed museum plans by clicking YouTube on right of page.

Pictures: Tamesis Trust

Story dated December 1st 2015