Three Lancashire museums to reopen

Queen Street Mill, Helmshore Mills and the Judges' Lodgings will open three days a week for two years
Jonathan Knott
Three museums in Lancashire are to reopen after the council approved plans last week.

Lancashire County Council said that Queen Street Mill Textile Museum in Burnley, Helmshore Mills Textile Museum in Rossendale and the Judges’ Lodgings Museum in Lancaster will reopen for three days each week, between Easter and October, for the next two years.

The council added that it was in ongoing discussions with other organisations about the long-term future of the museums.

The museums, which will open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, were among five that were closed in 2016. Since then, they have been open only for visits by schools and other organised groups.

The council will also extend the “care and maintenance” arrangements currently in place for the three museums, to ensure that their buildings and collections are properly looked after when the venues are closed.

Fleetwood Museum, one of the other venues that closed in 2016, was reopened in 2017. It is now managed through an independent trust, supported by funding from Fleetwood Town Council.

There are currently no plans to reopen the fifth institution that closed, the Museum of Lancashire in Preston. It emerged in 2016 that the council was in discussions with an unnamed consortium regarding the museum’s future.

A spokesman for the council said: “We are still in discussions with the same consortium and we are working towards a decision on the future of the museum over the next couple of months.”

The provisional opening date for Helmshore Mills is 26 May. Queen Street Mill is due to reopen on 7 July, and the Judges’ Lodgings on 21 July.

Aidy Riggott, Lancashire County Council’s lead member for economic development and cultural services, said: “The council has been working hard to ensure that these museums are once again available to the public, with our efforts focused on talking with organisations which have expressed an interest in taking them on. In the meantime we’ve continued to maintain the collections and buildings.

“I’m pleased to say that the county council has agreed to reopen the museums for three days every week from Easter to the end of October each year.”

Regarding the two mill sites, Riggott said: “In recognition of the immense cultural and historical significance of the mills, we are currently working with an organisation to explore what options are available so that the long-term sustainability of these nationally significant assets is secured.

“We have agreed to reopen the mills for three days each week while these discussions are ongoing.”

The council has been working with the Judges’ Lodgings Museum Trust on the future of the museum.

Riggott said: “Our paramount concern has always been to secure the long-term future of the Judges Lodgings’ Museum, and the important collection it houses.

“We will continue to work with The Lancaster Judges’ Lodgings Museums Trust, to ensure that together we can ensure a successful future for the museum.”

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