BOSSES at a museum in Pendle have made the heartbreaking decision to sell off one of its ‘crown jewels’ to pay the bills.

Financial pressures have forced the Titanic in Lancashire Museum, in Colne, to part with binoculars presented to Capt Arthur Rostron, of The Carpathia, the ship which rescued a number of the White Star liner’s passengers a century ago.

The eyeglasses have been placed up for sale on the auction website e-Bay, with a starting bid of $600.

Originally, they were presented to the veteran seaman, from Astley Bridge, Bolton, by his friend Charles Allum, to mark the 10th anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking.

Museum curator Nigel Hampson said the venture would ‘absolutely, categorically prefer not to sell the binoculars’ but they needed to pay bills year-round.

He added: “We do not want them to go. But we are between a rock and a hard place. Keeping the museum open costs money.

“All the staff, myself included, are unpaid volunteers and all monies made are put back into the museum.

“But the fact remains that gas, electricity, phone and day-to-day expenses all have to be covered.

Museums, like other attractions, are seasonal and all suffer a quiet period at this time of year.

“We fundraise as best as we can, but keeping the museum open and running fundraising events as well is hard work which requires a lot of time and also help and support from the community.

“Some people might say this is like selling off the family silver – and I totally agree with them.

“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?”

The museum, which opened at the Old Grammar School last year, is also setting up its own ‘friends’ group, to help with fundraising, and can be contacted on 01282 861833.