CAMPAIGNERS fear two flagship museums and 10 libraries which shut their doors to the public last night will never reopen.

They accused Lancashire County Council of rushing the closures at the expense of torpedoing promised negotiations with groups to save their future.

Burnley’s Queen Street Mill, which starred in the Oscar-winning film The King’s Speech, and Helmshore Mills Textile Museum were mothballed and will open only for school visits.

Four libraries in Burnley, two in Hyndburn, two in Pendle and two in Ribble Valley shut last night with four more facing closure by November 30.

Historian and Briercliffe councillor Roger Frost, whose ward includes Queen Street Mill and one of the libraries, said: “This is cultural vandalism. I don’t trust the county council. They have rushed the closures and I do not believe they are in meaningful negotiations to keep the museums or libraries going.

“If they want to reopen them, why the hurry and why the secrecy about whom they are talking to?”

Ribble Valley Tory MP Nigel Evans said: “I believe these cruel library and museums closures are final. Holding out a false hopes about negotiations to reopen them is a disgrace. If they intended to save them, they would have kept them open during talks.”

Staff at Queen Street Mill dressed in period costume yesterday in advance of the closure for a special showing of a film of the last commercial working days of the textile mill in 1982.

County council Tory group chairman and Oswaldtwistle councillor Peter Britcliffe said: “How can they close buildings they claim they are trying to keep open?

“I don’t believe the county wants to keep these museums and libraries so they forged ahead with these hasty closures. They are a disaster for Lancashire, its heritage, its tourism industry and the literacy of our children.

“The Labour group had money in the budget to keep them open for another year but rushed ahead.”

Pendle Liberal Democrat Peer Tony Greaves and veteran Ribble Valley Tory Albert Atkinson echoed their fears that the closures were final and not provisional.

County culture boss Marcus Johnstone denied the allegations saying: “We did not jump the gun. We are in meaningful negotiations with several bodies about reopening both the museums, which normally close to the public over the winter, and to reopen the libraries as community libraries where possible. I am not at liberty to give further details.”

Across Lancashire 20 libraries closed yesterday as the county council seeks to save £200million by 2021.

They include Briercliffe, Rosegrove, Pike Hill and Burnley Campus in Burnley; Oswaldtwistle and Clayton-le-Moors in Hyndburn; Chatburn and Read in Ribble Valley; and Barrowford and Earby in Pendle.

Five others are scheduled to close by November 30 including Whalley and Trawden under the county council’s property strategy which aims to sell 100 buildings, including community centres and other premises, to raise cash.

Bacup, Whitworth and Brierfield libraries, initially proposed for closure, have been reprieved.

Colne Waterside councillor Lord Greaves said: “It all being done in too much haste and secrecy and I fear they will never reopen.”

Ribble Valley North-East’s County Cllr Atkinson said: “These closures are an absolute disgrace.

“I do not believe the Labour administration’s claims they are seeking to reopen them.

“If they meant to do that they would not have rushed the closures.”

Padiham and Burnley West Labour councillor Johnstone said: “Closing museums and libraries is the last thing we want to do but the scale of government cuts in grants gave us no choice. 

“Although the museums closed to the public today, we are doing all we can to ensure that they have a sustainable future and will continue working very hard with the groups who have applied to take them over.

“We are also talking to community groups who want to take over the running of a library, and have put additional support in place with a grant of £5,000 to cover initial costs, to help establish an independent community library.”

Hyndburn MP Graham Jones said: “I believe the two museums and the libraries will reopen. Negotiations are well advanced with third sector groups to save them.”

Blackburn with Darwen council finance boss Andy Kay said: “We have no current plans to close any libraries or museums.”

As well as Queen Street and Helmshore, the Museum of Lancashire in Preston, Fleetwood’s Maritime Museum and Judges’ Lodgings in Lancaster also shut last night.