Please Note: This page has been updated on 23/9/18, following delays to the reopening of two of the three museums.
Good news at last on the fate of three of the four remaining closed Lancashire Museums. Lancashire County Council has announced that Helmshore Textile Mills, Queen Street Mill in Burnley and Judges’ Lodgings in Lancaster will reopen, but on a part time basis. This will continue for two years until 2020 while talks are ongoing with unnamed cultural organisations, with a view to the running of the buildings and their collections being taken over from the council. The unnamed organisations could be museum trusts, or historical charities.
This reprieve is welcome news and a positive step in the right direction. Many of us may have despaired as to what their fate would be as there has been little information released to the public about what was happening to the museums when they were closed two years ago.
This limited re-opening is still a way off from the full opening times that existed before 2016, but now must be the moment when we show our appreciation for these three wonderful Lancashire assets. So here at Lancashire Past we are saying: visit the museums, pay the modest entry fees, sign the visitors’ books, buy something in their shops. If you are on social media then let your friends know about your visit and encourage them to go too! If you are a Trip Advisor writer, visit and give them a great review! We have to show that these museums have a future, and that they are much loved by the public.
There have been some set backs since the reopenings were announced. Do keep an eye on the Lancashire Museums site here. Here is the latest information as of September 2018:
Helmshore Mills: Has re-opened. It will stay open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays 12 – 4pm until 28th October 2018. Then it closes for the winter, to reopen for spring on 19th April 2019.
Queen Street Mill, Burnley: The mill chimney is undergoing strengthening work so reopening is limited this autumn, hopefully more access in spring 2019. See Lancashire County Council website page on it here.
Judges Lodgings, Lancaster: Hoping to reopen in “early autumn” as there are still staff vacancies to fill – no date fixed as yet. See Lancashire County Council page on it here.
The remaining closed museum is Preston’s Museum of Lancashire. There are no immediate plans to re-open it, but a spokesperson for the council said talks were ongoing with an unnamed consortium and a decision will be taken in the next few months. Let’s hope it is a positive one. The Museum of Lancashire has been in receipt of large amounts of Heritage Lottery funding in the recent past, and had undergone a major refit a few years before it was closed. It remains an important asset, and houses the excellent Silverdale Viking Hoard (see our page on this amazing find here). Recently the Friends of the Museum of Lancashire have disbanded, and donated their funds to the North West Blood Bank. The museum still opens for school trips.
The fifth museum that closed back in 2016 was Fleetwood’s Maritime Museum. This was the first to reopen (as we detailed back in October 2017), when their volunteer group completely took over the running. It really is a fantastic place to visit, so do go and see the excellent work they are doing; it also has a really good café. It’s open Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Their website is here
Thank you to everyone that has lobbied to have the museums re-opened. Lots of people have signed petitions, contacted their councillors and MPs and written about the museums on the web. Also a big thank you to the various museum friends groups for their hard work in bringing us to this positive moment.