Highlights of the Max Aitken Museum
Spanning the entire length of the museum is a Gaff from the Royal Racing Yacht Britannia. Dating from the 1920s, it is approximately 51 feet long and weighs about 900pound. There are several other items from the Britannia, including the king’s chair, the tiller, some mast hoops, blocks and rigging, anchor chain and clock.
The museum tables were made especially for the room by Lallows in the 1960s; they are Honduras Mahogany and are still used today. Sir Max entertained many friends and dignitaries in this room over the years.
The cradle pictured above is a French Empire cradle, reputed to belong to Napoleon Bonaparte and Princess Marie Louise of Austria for their son “The Infant King of Rome”.
There are many artefacts relating to Nelson: this fine Buttersworth painting depicts the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. We also have a hand written letter, signed Nelson of Bronte, four paintings of the Battle of the Nile and various other interesting exhibits.
A beautiful Valentine pin cushion (bottom middle) was made by a sailor in the 1800s for his sweetheart.
A ditty box (bottom left) was made by a French prisoner of war; it is inlaid with straw and would have been sold by the prisoner for extra money to buy additional food/ tobacco or supplies.
Other exhibits include several models and half models of various yachts, junks, clippers, yawls etc. One of these is a replica of Nelson's flagship Victory, made from ivory and silver, another (which was also made by a prisoner of war) is a replica of the French Flagship, Redoubtable, made entirely of bone.
There are many navigational instruments and other nautical memorabilia.
Adorning the walls of the museum are many paintings dating from the early 1600s to the 1900s, including many famous artists such as Peter Monamy, Thomas Luny and Norman Wilkinson.
In 1979, Sir Max created a charitable trust to preserve his collection and to make this available to the public as a museum. Despite his death in 1985, it remains a very personal museum and is much the same as he knew it, which serves as a lasting reminder of a truly remarkable man.