Wor­ries for mu­seum’s fu­ture still loom large

Rossendale Free Press - - The Rossendale Scribbler -

IT was great to see Helmshore Tex­tile Mu­seum re-open at the week­end.

It should never have closed in the first place.

The suc­cess or not of the lim­ited hours open­ing will play a big part in de­ter­min­ing the fu­ture of the mu­seum, and to that end it’s re­ally im­por­tant as many lo­cal peo­ple as pos­si­ble make the ef­fort to use the mu­seum, and at­tend the events they hold through­out the year.

The de­ci­sion to lay on a bus from the East Lan­cashire Rail­way’s war week­end for peo­ple to come and see the mu­seum was a great idea, and such ini­tia­tives will be needed on a reg­u­lar ba­sis if the mu­seum is to sur­vive the on­go­ing fund­ing cuts be­ing passed from cen­tral gov­ern­ment to Lan­cashire County Coun­cil in the fu­ture.

Coun Peter Buck­ley, LCC’s cab­i­net mem­ber for com­mu­nity and cul­tural ser­vices, said: “I was de­lighted to be able to re­open Helmshore Mills Tex­tile Mu­seum at the week­end. It is a re­ally fan­tas­tic place and I would en­cour­age peo­ple of all ages to visit and find out more about Lan­cashire’s in­dus­trial her­itage.”

He’s right, of course. But the chal­lenge - and this is a big one - is the long-term so­lu­tion for the mu­seum. It is our her­itage we are talk­ing about, and real­is­ti­cally it seems un­likely LCC will be able to sup­port it in the long-term.

A lot of ef­fort was ex­pended fight­ing the Labour county coun­cil’s de­ci­sion to close the mu­seum, only for it to be re-opened once the Tories took con­trol. That’s a great mes­sage - but an even bet­ter mes­sage would be to talk about the steps be­ing taken to se­cure the mu­seum’s long-term fu­ture, some­thing hope­fully politi­cians of both po­lit­i­cal colours can rally to­gether to de­liver.

●● Sue Ash­worth at the newly re-opened Helmshore Mills Tex­tile Mu­seum

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