Pledge over future of council’s museum collections

The Museum of Lancashire, Stanley Street, Preston
The Museum of Lancashire, Stanley Street, Preston
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The future of Lancashire’s treasured museum collections is safe despite uncertainty around the service, County Hall bosses have said.

Five Lancashire County Council-run museums closed to the public last year as budget cuts bit.

Preston’s MoL (Museum of Lancashire), the Judges’ Lodgings museum in Lancaster, the Helmshore Textile Museums and Queen Street Mill in Burnley were closed to save £1.1m.

County Hall said negotiations are proceeding as it seeks new people or organisations to run them, but it has been stressed the museum’s collections and any museum properties will remain in council ownership.

County Coun Marcus Johnstone, cabinet member for cultural services, said: “Over the past few months we’ve been contacting people who have kindly loaned items to us that have been on display in Lancashire museums to update them on the current situation, and of future plans. The firm intention is for all of the items to remain where they are, as long as the lenders are happy with this.

“People who have donated items to a museum will see their items stay in that museum if it re-opens under new management because the county council would be lending the museum collection to the new operators. We are not giving our collection away but retaining ownership.”

It is thought that custodianship of MoL could go to a regimental charity. MoL houses its own military collections - the Duke of Lancaster’s Own Yeomanry and the 14th/20th King’s Hussars, plus many items from the Barracks’ based Lancashire Infantry Museum.

Roger Goodwin, a trustee of the Lancashire Infantry Museum at Fulwood Barracks, said: “There is quite a lot of our material at MoL. Our museum has had quite a big display within MoL for something like 20 years.”

He said they had told those seeking to come up with a scheme to take over MoL that they are happy for them to keep the collection and have it on display there.

Last week Mr Goodwin announced that the future of the Infantry Museum was assured - even though it may have to move home, after the Ministry of Defence pledged to find it appropriate premises when Fulwood Barracks closes.