VOLUNTEERS at a Pendle museum are urging sponsors to step forward after being forced to put a prized exhibit on eBay.
Last week, staff at The Titanic in Lancashire Museum, in Colne, were left with no choice but to put up for sale a pair of binoculars that once belonged to Capt. Arthur Rostron, of The Carpathia — the ship that rescued passengers from the North Atlantic Ocean in 1912, after the RMS Titanic collided with an iceberg.
Capt. Rostron. from Astley Bridge, near Bolton, was given the binoculars on the 10th anniversary of the sinking of Titanic in March 1922, by long time friend Charles Allum.
They are inscribed with the words, “With best wishes from Charles Allum March 1922. Captain A. H. Rostron CBE, RD, RNR”.
According to museum curator Nigel Hampson, from Brierfield, getting rid of the item feels as heartbreaking as “selling off the family silver”, and he has now appealed for businesses and individuals to offer their support.
It is believed that £2,000 per year is all that is needed to cover heating, electricity, phone bills and ancillary items, such as printing museum leaflets. It would also help with the museum’s lecture programme for schools, which helps students learn about the Titanic, and the stories of over 100 Lancashire people who were on board or involved in one of the most infamous sea disasters in history.
He said: “The costs of running Titanic In Lancashire Museum are on the grand scheme of things very small.
“We do this for the love of what we do and because we feel it is so important to tell these stories and to make sure they are not lost in the mists of time. All of us are unpaid volunteers — myself included, no one takes a wage.
“Being sponsored by someone would be such a massive, massive boost to us. We want this museum to be here for many many years.
“We want to continue uncovering the lost stories of the men and women from Lancashire and presenting that information to the general public.
“If just 100 people donated £20, that would achieve our goal.”
Mr Hampson has also said that he is open to listening to people’s ideas of how to keep the binoculars in the Church Street museum.
He added: “We would absolutely, categorically prefer not to sell the binoculars.
“But we are between a rock and a hard place.
“It is a horrible situation for us and one that is causing me many sleepless nights, but when the bills need to be paid what are you supposed to do?”
Also backing the campaign in the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic is Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson and honorary secretary of the British Titanic Society, Rudi Newman.
Mr Stephenson said: “Having visited the Titanic In Lancashire Museum, I can testify that it is an excellent local exhibition.
“I hope they are able to find additional sources of funding as it would be great if the exhibition could continue long after this anniversary year.”
And Mr Newman said: “The threat to the Titanic in Lancashire Museum is most tragic.
“The many commemorations occurring worldwide this year demonstrate that despite the passing of a century, Titanic and all those affected are far from forgotten.
“Lancashire’s role in Titanic history should not be underplayed, and it can only be hoped that through the museum its illustrious ancestors can continue to be proudly remembered for their great heroism.”
l The museum is currently looking for people to help with a “Charity Bag Pack” at Asda Colne on December 20th.
The event will take place from 10am to 6pm and it is hoped that volunteers will be able to spare an hour or two of their time. Nigel will be creating a rota soon.
To show your interest in sponsoring The Titanic in Lancashire Museum or taking part in the fundraising event ring 01282 861833 or e-mail TitanicInLancs@hotmail.co.uk.