Mice are destroying a much-loved Lancaster museum’s treasured collection, it has been claimed.
Fears over the future of the Judges’ Lodgings have risen after reports that mice have been running amok, chewing through museum items.
One man, who does not wish to be named, has slammed owners Lancashire County Council and said assurances the collections, in particular Gillows Furniture, are being kept safe in storage is “not true.”
He said: “The fact that they are saying it is safe is astounding, there have been mice everywhere.
“It looks a mess outside, it is not safe, it is a shambles.”
The museum closed to the public in October last year after cuts to the county council’s budget.
Efforts have been made by the Friends of The Judges’ Lodgings group to save the building. However claims have been made that the group is “being constantly shut out and ignored.”
“They’re being strung along and not given any information they need to take over,” said one man who wishes to remain anonymous.
“It seems the council want to keep control of the museum and the collection, but expect the Friends Group to take financial responsibility.” It has also been reported to the Guardian that the management team have been relocated to the Maritime Museum.
“Staff used to lovingly look after the collection on a daily basis. Within just a few months of neglect, dust is piling up and the mice are seizing on the opportunity of a house free of humans to run amok.
“Already sharks are circling and the city museum has had telephone enquiries asking if they can buy the museum.
“School groups (trips still take place) love it, and there’s nowhere else in Lancaster that has those facilities.”
The Lancaster Guardian has been invited to take a look inside the Judges’ Lodgings by owners Lancashire County Council on April 20.
Ian Watson, Lancashire County Council’s libraries, museums and registrars service manager, said: “A robust care and maintenance regime is currently in place for the Judges’ Lodgings Museum, ensuring that both the building and its collection are kept properly looked-after, safe and secure.
“Evidence of mice was found during one of our regular maintenance checks, and we worked with Lancaster City Council’s pest control officer to take immediate action.
“The few areas where mice were found have been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.
“Other than minor damage to some of the dolls’ collection storage, nothing else was spoiled or destroyed during this incident, and we will keep it under review.
“Negotiations are continuing regarding both the long-term future of the building, and the collection it houses.
“Whilst these discussions take place, we will continue to support the Friends of the Judges’ Lodgings Museum by offering specialist advice from both independent museum advisers with a range of expertise gained from museums across the country, and also by staff from other Lancashire museums.”