COUNTY Council chiefs said they are willing to talk to any groups interested in taking over the running of Helmshore Mills Textile Museum which faces a 'very real' risk of closure.
The message comes as an online petition calling for proposals to axe Lancashire County Council funding for the Rossendale-based museum and the Queen Street Mill Textile Museum in Burnley to be shelved has attracted 8,300 signatures.
Campaigner and former Helmshore Mills Textile Museum Susan Mattison, who said there are also hard copy petitions with over 2,000 signatures, has called on the county council to give the mills in Holcombe Road a 12-month reprieve to allow time for a new group to come in and take over the running of the facility.
Mrs Mattison, who said the two mills in Helmshore attract over 22,000 visitors each year, warned that once they're closed they will never open again.
Mrs Mattison, 68, said: "It's an absolute travesty they're talking about closing it.
"They're supposed to be protecting tourism, yet they're talking about taking away our heritage,
"We are asking the council to reconsider this disastrous decision to cut all funding to museums by April 2016.
"While we appreciate that the council has offered us the chance to come up with ‘alternative service delivery models including their operation by local communities and interest groups’, achieving this in five months is unrealistic.
"We want County Hall to promise to continue to keep running Helmshore and Queen Street Mills until April 2017, even at a reduced service, until we can offer a viable business plan and alternative to preserve our unique history."
Mrs Mattison said they are still deciding whether to take the petition to County Hall or Downing Street.
Lancashire County Councillor Marcus Johnstone, cabinet member for environment, planning and cultural services, said: "These are very difficult decisions that have definitely been made with a heavy heart.
"They are unfortunately necessary because of unprecedented financial pressures caused by cuts to funding by central government and rising demand for our services, particularly those that care for the most vulnerable, such as adult social care.
"Our preference would be that Helmshore Textile Museum, and our other museums, remain open and we are willing to talk to any groups who may be able to make that happen by taking over their running."
A county council spokesman said although there were proposals to close Helmshore Mills, all budget decisions still have to be signed off by full council in February.
Rossendale and Darwen MP Jake Berry, who has signed the petition, said: "This is a museum with national importance based in Rossendale and I am backing the campaign to ensure that it remains open. Figures reveal that Lancashire County Council has £300million in reserves and and to close these vital museums whilst they have all this money shows they have all the wrong priorities."
To view the online petition visit