As Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery marks its 150th anniversary, it is also celebrating the work of its oldest and longest-serving volunteer.

With his 90th birthday next year, Richard Croasdale has been 'doing his bit' at the museum for 17 years.

At 15 years old he proudly joined the British Northrop Loom Company Ltd – an engineering firm based in his hometown of Blackburn.

The company manufactured machinery for producing textiles – particularly the Northrop Loom – and was a key player in the town’s booming cotton industry.

And it was the skills that Mr Croasdale learned there that would eventually bring him to the museum many years later.

He said: “My friend Jim Halsall was a local historian, and he rang me telling me he had a job for me to do.

“While I was retired, I was already busy volunteering and so told Jim: ‘I have enough of those, thank you very much'.

“But, he insisted this was a job I’d absolutely want to do – re-building a loom that had been donated to the museum in bits – being dropped off in boxes.”

Mr Croasdale couldn’t wait to get started and what others thought would take him months, actually took just a couple of days.

Once that was done, he moved on to carefully restoring and maintaining the looms which are part of the Lewis Textile Collection, celebrating the borough’s rich links to the cotton industry.

The great-grandfather has been at the museum ever since as a much-valued volunteer for the last 17 years, earning himself a British Museum Award.

Mr Croasdale, born appropriately in Cotton Street said: “There is so much history here in Blackburn.

“It was once the weaving capital of the world, and I love to share my stories with our visitors, including the schoolchildren. I feel like it’s better than them just reading about it in a book.

“We have people come from around the world to visit the museum

“I love to volunteer – it feels like I’m giving something back to the place I’ve lived all my life.

"I love Blackburn - to me, it’s a fantastic place, it’s home.

“The whole team at the museum is brilliant and they all take such good care of me.

"I’ll be here for as long as they have me.”

Rebecca Johnson, Blackburn with Darwen Council’s arts and heritage manager, said: “Richard has dedicated the last 17 years to volunteering here at the museum and he’s hugely popular – sharing his fascinating stories of Blackburn through the years and his knowledge of the cotton industry.

“The museum relies on volunteers like Richard."