Judgement day looms for Lancaster museum

The Friends of the Judges Lodgings in Lancaster are forming a plan to take over the running of the museum.
The Friends of the Judges Lodgings in Lancaster are forming a plan to take over the running of the museum.

A rescue bid has been launched to save the Judges’ Lodgings museum.

A group of campaigners have applied to run the threatened museum and its garden themselves.

The Friends of the Judges’ Lodgings are now waiting to see if their application to museum owners Lancashire County Council gets the thumbs up.

They hope to find out the decision by the middle of September.

“We were exploring working with any other interested parties, but unfortunately none came forward,” said Sue Widden, secretary of the Friends, in its latest newsletter.

“We do, however, feel that the Friends have been able to submit a very strong application and we look forward to hearing from Lancashire County Council.

“In the meantime we are looking at various funding opportunities, and should our bid be successful we will need to begin an intense period of fundraising.”

The Judges’ Lodgings, Lancaster’s oldest town house, is due to close later this year unless the rescue bid is approved.

The Grade I listed building, originally home to Thomas Covell, keeper of Lancaster Castle and notorious witch hunter, is now home to a collection of Gillow furniture and the Museum of Childhood which explores toys and games from the 18th century to the present.

The museum, as well as four others in Lancashire, is under threat due to county council budget cuts.

The closures were announced as the authority attempts to balance its books to cope with a £56m shortfall by 2018/19 after a major cut in government funding.

Last week the museums were thrown a potential lifeline by an Arts Council for England grant to support the hunt for new owners.

Meanwhile a public consultation into the future of local libraries and children’s centres closes this Sunday.