There are several Victorian boathouses on the banks of the lake, most of which have been modified over the years.
The Earl of Macclesfield Boathouse was built in the 1850’s for the Earl’s use and is the oldest boathouse on the lake. The interior originally consisted of a small room with windows overlooking both the lake and the boathouse, along with a small fireplace and access to the boathouse. By the early 1900’s the stepped front gable had collapsed and had been replaced by a timber facing. The roof which we believe was originally straw covered was replaced with corrogated iron. The building remained in an ever deteriorating condition used for a short time to store a steamboat but becoming more and more dilapidated as the years went by.
Following negotiations with the then British Waterways in 2005, the Rudyard Lake Trust agreed a lease on the property enabling funding to be drawn from several sources including the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Rudyard Lake League of Friends and the relatives of the late Frank Bradley, the building restoration was completed in 2008 and is now open to the public and provides information on the boating history of the lake. There is a wood burning stove which is lit throughout the winter months and power for the LED lighting is provided from batteries.
The North Staffordshire Railway owned the small boathouse near to the Dam on the western shore which today is the Rudyard Lake Visitor Centre. The original boathouse was renovated in 2001, again thanks to funding streams including the Heritage Lottery Fund and many others. In May 2015 the Visitor Centre will be transformed to house some of the very latest technology enabling the visitors to access the considerable archive which has been accumilated in the intervening period.
The period between 1890 and 1910 saw a rapid rise in the number of boathouses on the western side of the lake built on narrow strips of land which had been sold off in the 1885 auction of the Cliffe Park estate, some being simply a place to store boats whilst others combined a boathouse with a dwelling above. Two fine examples are Lower Horton Lodge Boathouse built in 1891 and the Lady of the Lake built in 1893 which was designed by William Sugden for the Davenport family who were silk manufacturers from Leek. By 1898 the ordinance survey map indicated no less than eleven boathouses were apparent on the lake.
In more recent times several of the boathouses have become privately owned holiday lets which have resulted in more tourists being attracted to the lake and surrounding area.