Lancaster museum ‘referendum’ reveals fond memories

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

More than 100 people gave their views on the future of a Lancaster museum that closed last year due to budget cuts.

The Friends of Lancaster’s Judges’ Lodgings Museum created a mock up version of the museum in a pop-up pavilion in Market Square last weekend, asking people to share their ideas on how the museum might develop.

It held a “referendum” on whether people like to visit museums or not, and there was a resounding vote in favour.

People were also asked for their views and memories of the Judges’ Lodgings as it was before it was closed and how they would like to see a reopened museum developing.

Many people, even if they hadn’t visited recently, said they had affectionate memories of going there as a child, either on a school trip or taken by family. Sue Widden, from the Friends group said: “They had enjoyed using the old school room in the Museum of Childhood and looking at the range of toys and playthings available to children of Victorian times.

“One woman commented on how her little girl remembered the puppet show and how sad they had been when the museum closed last year.

“Children thought it would be a great place for a treasure hunt, possibly inspired by the chocolate gold coins handed out by the volunteer team from the Friends of Lancaster Judges’ Lodgings, as a thank you for their help.

“Many took the first step to a future legal career by trying on the judge’s wig on display and using the gavel on the block to issue orders.”

Sue said people felt that they would be attracted to a museum where there was a range of hands-on activities and changing events, such as having a hand in making bread in the old kitchen, or having a resident joiner showing them how to make wooden dove-tail joints, inspired by the collection of Gillow furniture displayed throughout the building.

She added: “They would like to see the 17th century building alive again with the stories of past generations who occupied the building.

“The question most asked was when the Judges’ Lodgings would reopen.

“The Friends of the Judges’ Lodgings are not in a position to say just at the moment.

“They are in negotiations with the newly elected Conservative Lancashire County Council and the response of the public to this consultation will help to inform the business plan.”

Garth Lindrup, Chair of the Judges’ Lodgings Museum Trust, said: “It’s great to get the public involved with the future development of the museum and to know that so many of them would like to see the building open again.”

The Grade I Listed building closed in September 2016 as part of Lancashire County Council’s Property Strategy Review.

It was part of a wider wave of museum closures across the county.

The pop-up Judges’ Lodgings will visit the town centre again on Sunday 13 August in Market Square and on Monday August 14 inside Lancaster Library in Market Square.