As the name implies, the Museum of Lancashire is a museum of the history of Lancashire. With budget cuts at County Hall, it has been earmarked for closure to save money. As such, I went, with occasional Pluto contributor Lucy Wallwork, to the Museum to see if it’s worth paying a visit to before it shuts its doors for the last time.
Located very close to the city centre, the Museum is easily missed unless you know it’s there – there’s a big sign, granted, but it’s next to the rather large HMP Preston, which overshadows it a fair amount. As you walk up the drive, you can see that, like most prisons, it is located in a rather grandiose building.
As you enter, you’re immediately in a large room containing the gift shop, the reception, and the café, with the first exhibition being at the back. A cheery man at the reception desk asked us if we’d been before, and upon hearing our answer (no – we hadn’t), handed us a well-used map of the building. We continued to the back to have a look at the first exhibition – Lancashire Through Time.
This section is now a little out of date, featuring references to things such as the Euro 2014 football tournament, and the 2012 Olympics as in the future, but by and large it was a very informative, if a little brief. We continued up the staircase, and found ourselves in the Lancashire Law and Order section. This is one of the best, in my opinion, and not only because we got to dress up.
Continuing around, we reached the Lancashire at War section, which contained a replica trench you could walk through – much akin to that in the Imperial War Museum in London. This section, I found absolutely horrifying, as it was rather interactive – there was a section where you were able to experience the smell of Phosgene Gas, the gas used in the trenches in World War One.
The temporary exhibition was absolutely brilliant, and made us laugh a considerable amount, as did the Lancashire Faces section – less humorous, but still a very feelgood part of the museum.
After going round, we popped into the gift shop, where the gifts were all very reasonably priced (I purchased a rubber as I’ve been lacking one), and then went to the café, where we had tea and scones, which were also reasonably priced.
The Museum of Lancashire is a great experience, especially if, like me, you’re a dirty southerner, and need an education about life through time in the Red Rose County. I’d recommend it to anyone who’s not been before, but with the impending closure, just make sure it’s sooner rather than later.