Please Note: This page has been updated on 31/03/19
Helmshore Textile Mills, Queen Street Mill in Burnley and Judges’ Lodgings in Lancaster have all reopened, but on a part-time basis. This will continue until 2020 while talks are ongoing as to the future running of the museums.
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.
The Lancashire Museums site is here. You can check the opening times on their site, but here is the latest information as of March 2019:
Helmshore Mills: Has re-opened as of March 2019. It opens on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, 12- 4pm.
Queen Street Mill, Burnley: This is re-opening on 18th April 2019. It opens on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 12- 4pm.
Judges Lodgings, Lancaster: This has re-opened as of March 2019. It opens on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 11- 4pm.
Museum of Lancashire: This remains closed.
What of the future of the museums?
There is a statement about the Helmshore Textile Museums and Queen Street Mill on Lancashire County Council website, which we reproduce in full here:
“A partnership led by Lancashire County Council and the National Trust is to examine the future of the mills, which were reopened to the public by the council last year after a short period of closure due to budget cuts.
The project will explore and develop ways in which the mills can generate income and minimise costs while also conserving the buildings and collections to benefit the public. The work has been supported with a £99,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and has also received funding from Arts Council England.
At this stage, the project, which will involve a number of other organisations including the Higher Mill Museum Trust, the National Lottery Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic England and Arts Council England, will not implement any proposals”.
There is no similar statement on the Judges’ Lodgings, however its museum trust and friends group are working hard to guarantee its future.
The remaining closed museum is Preston’s Museum of Lancashire. The museum still opens for pre-arranged school trips. There are no immediate plans to re-open it to the public, but last autumn a spokesperson for the council said talks were ongoing with an unnamed consortium and a decision will be taken. 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 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.