Council takes steps to secure future of two Lancashire mill museums - Museums Association

Council takes steps to secure future of two Lancashire mill museums

Improvements planned at Queen Street and Helmshore Mills following consultation with National Trust
Helmshore Mills Textile Museum in Rossendale
Helmshore Mills Textile Museum in Rossendale Photo by Alex Harrison © The National Trust

Lancashire County Council has approved proposals for a range of improvements to Queen Street Mills in Burnley and Helmshore Mills Textile Museum in Rossendale.

The two sites were among five museums closed by the council due to a funding shortfall in 2016. They were subsequently reopened with a reduced offer.

In 2021 the council enlisted the National Trust to conduct a review of what could be changed in each museum to improve the visitor offer and secure their financial sustainability. The review was funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The National Trust presented its report to the council in the summer, identifying a range of actions that could be implemented over the next five years.

The report recommended that improvements to signage, marketing and shop development could be carried out in the short term to boost visitor numbers and income generation. It advised on further improvements that could be considered in future years with support from external heritage funders.

Earlier this month, the cabinet approved proposals to enhance the in-house offer at the mills, including the development of a comprehensive business plan and key performance indicators to assess progress.

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"We are very grateful to the National Trust for carrying out this thorough review of Queen Street Mill and Helmshore Mills,” said Peter Buckley, cabinet member for community and cultural services.

"We intend to carry a number of the improvements identified by the National Trust forward to improve the overall offer and financial sustainability of both museums.

"Some improvements will require external funding and we will be making the case to invest in these historically significant heritage assets once we have identified suitable sources of funding.

"It is also very important to us that we continue to maintain good relations with the National Trust, whose contribution to our museums is greatly appreciated by the county council."

"We're very pleased to hear that Lancashire County Council will be moving forward with a number of our recommendations for both Queen Street Mill and Helmshore Mills Textile Museum,” said Eleanor Underhill, assistant director of operations at the National Trust.

"In recent years we've been working in close partnership with the museums team at Lancashire County Council to offer specialist advice and heritage consultancy support, sharing our knowledge of looking after and promoting special places like Queen Street Mill and Helmshore Mills.

Background

In 2016 Lancashire County Council withdrew funding from five of its museums: Helmshore Mills, Queen Street Mills, Judges’ Lodgings, Fleetwood Museum and the Museum of Lancashire. Three of the venues have since been reopened by the council and one, Fleetwood Museum, is now operating as an independent trust. The Museum of Lancashire remains closed.

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