In the October newsletter, it was reported that our museum trustees were doing everything possible to fully engage with Lancashire County Council (LCC) following its announcement that it could no longer fund 5 of its museums, one of which was the Museum of Lancashire (MoL) in Preston in which our Collection was displayed. Since September, the Consortium brought together to bid for the building has been hard at work negotiating the terms for such a deal with LCC. To remind readers, the consortium comprises KRH, DLOY, The Fusilier Museum in Bury, the Army Museums Ogilby Trust and the National Army Museum.
Negotiations have now reached the point where it can be announced that LCC has agreed to transfer to the consortium not only the Grade 2 listed MoL building, but also the 3 other important buildings on the same Stanley Road site – the former drill hall with its suite of offices currently used for storage and by HQ Lancashire Museum Services, the former caretaker’s house and the converted St Mary’s Church, now a modern conservation centre with significant commercial potential. Our business plan did not assume that these buildings would be transferred to us, so it is now being revised in order to include them. LCC has proposed that ownership of these buildings should be transferred to the consortium from 1 April 2017, with all buildings less the MoL then being leased back to LCC until they have been fully vacated. This process should take no longer than 2 years, after which we will have full, freehold possession of all 4 buildings. There are many other issues yet to be discussed and agreed with LCC which include the future of its collections (we are likely to be loaned all items currently displayed within the MoL along with selected pieces from the reserve collection), transfer of staff and TUPE arrangements if applicable, the future of the present education services provided by LCC from April 2018, and a robust reappraisal of our business plan to judge whether this project is affordable. Further meetings with LCC are planned for 15 December so the next report will include progress made then.
We will need to fund raise and we’re already seeking genuine offers of help from anyone prepared to volunteer some time and any particular skills they have to assist bring this ambitious but exciting project to reality. All offers to Maj Steve Penkethman in HHQ Winchester please. Now that KRH has no physical presence in Preston it would be fantastic to be able to grasp this once in a lifetime opportunity to re-establish a permanent home for our museum collection in Preston and also provide a future focus for former 14/20H and KRH activities in Lancashire.