A new heritage attraction will open its doors to the public for the first time on Saturday following a £20 million development by Lakeland Arts.

The Windermere Jetty Museum of Boats, Steam and Stories is located in Bowness within the Lake District National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site. On display are a selection of vessels from an internationally significant collection of more than 40 boats dating back to the 1890s.

Windermere Jetty is one of the first contemporary buildings to be constructed on the shores of Windermere in more than 50 years, comprising a cluster of seven buildings.

A boathouse sits at the heart of the composition and new jetties provide access for visitors to sail on Osprey (1902), one of the museum’s fully-restored Edwardian steam launches and for Windermere Lake Cruises to dock and drop off passengers at the museum.

“It is really satisfying to see the new museum finished and ready to welcome visitors where there is a connection between boats, the water and people,” said Gordon Watson, Chief Executive of Lakeland Arts.

“To see Osprey restored and in full steam on the water is just one of the highlights and this will be a place where the traditions of boat building and conservation will be kept alive by the passionate staff and volunteers.”

The museum features a unique open access conservation workshop where visitors will see the team of skilled conservation boat builders conserve and restore vessels that would otherwise be lost to history.

“Conserving the boats in the collection is my dream job,” said boat conservator Sian Morris.

“There aren’t many women doing this job, but I love all aspects, from the restoration work, to connecting with children and talking to older people who have so many stories to tell about their experiences growing up with the lake.”

The museum collection ranges from Victorian steam launches to record-breaking speedboats from the 1980s.

Vessels include SL Dolly, thought to be the oldest mechanically powered boat in the world, Beatrix Potter’s tarn boat which she used to sketch in, and the 50-foot luxuriously-designed Victorian steam launch Branksome (1896).

The National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) is the major funder for the museum, contributing more than £13m to the project.

The project is also supported by the DCMS Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund, Regional Growth Fund, the Rural Development Programme for England and other trusts and foundations.

Lakeland Arts worked with award-winning UK-based architects Carmody Groarke.