BLACKBURN Local History Society chairman Ray Smith has criticised the borough council over its failure to show off many of the historic items in the storerooms of the town's museum.

Mr Smith said he was alarmed that council bosses have decided to use the former Bentley's building next door on Exchange Street, once earmarked for an extension, to house Lancashire’s first ‘Fab Lab’ creative and digital technology centre, Mr Smith said: "Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery's collections are known throughout the world.

"It has the largest collection of icons outside of the Victorian and Albert Museum and has the second largest collection of Japanese woodcut prints in the country.

"There is no room to show the history of the police and fire service; the inventions of Drs Shorrock and Mercer (tufted carpet production, Netlon and Teflon); or the wallpaper industry which Lancashire was the centre of the world's production .

"Many donations are not able to be shown because of space.

"It was the reason for the council buying the former town centre bar Bentleys next door to show off the museum's hidden secrets.

"Now the council has decided to use that building for another purpose, which means that the museum will never be able to expand unlike others up and down the country.

"Our councillors tell us that there is no money. How is it then that other towns such as Bolton and Manchester can find the money?

"It is time that the people's representatives realized the heritage of the town can be used to bring jobs and, with the use of the internet advertise, to the world what a great town Blackburn once was."

Blackburn with Darwen Council’s Director of Culture Martin Eden, said: “The museum has faced budget issues in the last five years following the Government’s significant cuts.

"It has gone from strength to strength over the past few years, visitor numbers are rising and exciting new investment opportunities are in the pipeline.

“These include The Making Rooms, in the former Bentley’s building which will serve as an extension to Blackburn Museum.

“We are taking part in the ‘Cotton to Gold’ exhibition at the prestigious London exhibition venue Two Temple Place which shows art and artefacts collected during the Industrial Revolution.

"Blackburn Museum has loaned many of its finest pieces and the exhibition has been a huge hit.

"We are looking to the future of Blackburn Museum will continue to produce fantastic events, exhibitions and interactive experiences."