Image right: VPA.0538 Destroyer, Griffin (G Class Fleet Destroyer). Under construction on slipway looking aft (from the museum’s Vickers Photographic Archive, an important collection donated to the museum in 2000 by Barrow’s shipyard)  
Image: VPA.0538 Destroyer, Griffin (G Class Fleet Destroyer)
​​​​​Under construction on slipway looking aft (from the museum’s Vickers Photographic Archive, an important collection donated to the museum in 2000 by Barrow’s shipyard)  

An exciting new heritage gallery, made possible by a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant of £816,700, will tell the story of shipbuilding in Barrow-in-Furness at the town’s Dock Museum. 

Shipyard Town focuses on the rich heritage of Barrow’s main industry from the 1950s to the present day, as well as looking to the future. 

The total cost of the project is just under £1 million, with the National Lottery Heritage Fund contribution made possible by money raised by National Lottery players. All additional funding has been secured, with BAE Systems contributing £100,000 and the Sir John Fisher Foundation also making a donation. 

Shipyard Town is a two-year project that will include the creation of a new permanent shipbuilding gallery, the building of a research room, an upgrading the museum’s entrance and the introduction of a fun family-friendly “Squeeze in a Sub” learning zone. 

Solar panels will be installed too, as part of the Low Carbon Barrow policy.

Dock Museum curator Sabine Skae said, “Our new gallery is an amazing opportunity to showcase the long and important history of Barrow-in-Furness as a Shipyard Town. The funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, BAE Systems and our other supporters provides us with the chance to show off this heritage in the way it deserves.” 

The venture will see the creation of three new posts at the Dock Museum: a Project Manager, Digitisation Officer and Education Officer. A suite of educational activities will be provided for children aged from one-year-old up to adults. A new volunteer scheme will see people involved in developing and delivering events and educational activities, as well as learning new skills vital for the functioning of the museum.  

David Renwick, Director of England, North at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “Barrow-in-Furness is home to a fascinating legacy of the UK’s industrial heritage, and we’re delighted to be able to support the creation of the Dock Museum’s new gallery Shipyard Town. We’re very proud to have invested in Barrow-in-Furness’ heritage in recent years with initiatives such as our MicroGrants programme, and we are proud to continue to do so through grants for fantastic projects like this. We can’t wait to see the project progress, and see Barrow-in-Furness’ wonderful history brought to life for the Dock Museum’s visitors.”

Two new shipbuilding films will be commissioned, and a pair of new walking trails starting from the museum will be developed so that the town’s shipbuilding heritage can be explored in detail. 

As well as their financial contribution, BAE Systems have donated an internationally-important collection of 3,000 images from its shipbuilding archive. Some of the pictures will form part of the new gallery, while all the images will be restored before being scanned and made available to the public online and in the museum’s research room. 

Paul Ethell, BAE Systems’ HR Director said, 'We are delighted that funding for the Shipyard Town project has been secured.  We are proud of our ship and submarine building heritage and the Dock Museum is a place where people can learn about the history of Barrow and about the legacy upon which today's success is built. We see the Dock Museum as playing a vital role for years to come in helping to tell the story of Barrow for the benefit of its townsfolk and visitors. We look forward to our continued collaboration'.

Councillor Ann Thomson, leader of Barrow Borough Council, said: "This award is excellent news for The Dock Museum and indeed the whole area.

"Barrow has a very proud shipbuilding heritage which helped shape our past and still has an important role to play in our future.

"Shipyard Town truly is a superb project which will expand opportunities to share our unique story with people of all ages in a variety of fun, engaging and educational ways."

Find out more about the Dock Museum, one of our Shipshape Network North Projects here.                          

The Dock Museum