MU­SEUM MEM­O­RIES

Lancashire Life - - Places To Visit -

This month sees the re­tire­ment of The Ruskin Mu­seum di­rec­tor Vicky Slowe, af­ter 26 years of restor­ing and en­larg­ing the home of arts, her­itage and his­tory.

She has spent 52 years in the mu­seum busi­ness, start­ing at Ab­bot Hall in Ken­dal, where in 1969 she helped or­gan­ise an ex­hi­bi­tion of John Ruskin’s art to mark 150 years an­niver­sary of his birth. ‘Ruskin has rippled through my whole ca­reer and it is ap­pro­pri­ate that I should re­tire in the year of his 200th birth­day cel­e­bra­tions,’ she said. Vicky was parachuted into The Ruskin Mu­seum when its valu­able col­lec­tions were iden­ti­fied by the old North West Mu­se­ums Ser­vice as at risk.

In 2006 she raised £600,000 to build an extension to house the Blue­bird, Don­ald Camp­bell’s wa­ter speed record-bust­ing boat, which in 1967 crashed killing him. Ty­ne­side en­gi­neer Bill Smith had raised Blue­bird from the bed of Con­is­ton Wa­ter and ren­o­vated it, with the in­ten­tion of it be­ing put to rest in the mu­seum. But he made such a good job of the restora­tion that he now wants to take it on a world tour to fire up its en­gines and run it again.

‘No-one re­alised how long it would take to re­build and con­serve Blue­bird, and no one fore­saw it would be fit to run on wa­ter again, so things have all be­come a bit com­pli­cated,’ Vicky added. Ne­go­ti­a­tion to re­solve the im­passe, in­volv­ing Camp­bell’s fam­ily, were con­tin­u­ing as Lan­cashire Life went to press.

Vicky Slowe, the out­go­ing cu­ra­tor of The John Ruskin Mu­seum in Con­is­ton.

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