A MUSEUM dedicated to the Titanic says it has been forced to “sell the family silver” after it put the binoculars belonging to a hero Bolton captain up for sale.

The Bolton News reported in September how the Titanic In Lancashire Museum in Colne had bought the binoculars — which were originally owned by Sir Arthur Rostron — from an online auction site.

Sir Arthur, from Astley Bridge, rescued 705 survivors of the Titanic on his ship, the RMS Carpathia.

But now the museum has been forced to sell the binoculars in order to fund its running costs and has listed them on the US version of the online auction site eBay.

Museum curator Nigel Hampson said he has had “sleepless nights” about the sale.

He added: “We would absolutely prefer not to sell the binoculars but we are between a rock and a hard place.

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

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

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

“We raise funds as best as we can, but keeping the museum open and running fundraising events is hard work.”

The binoculars, technically known as field glasses, were presented to Sir Arthur on the 10th anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking, which took place on April 15, 1912, by his friend, Charles Allum, who served with him during the First World War, and are inscribed with “Best Wishes from Charles Allum March 1922. Captain AH Rostron C.B.E R.D R.N.R”.

Before the museum bought them they had been stored in garage of the previous owner, who had picked them up from a flea market in London in the 1970s.

Mr Hampson said: “Some people might say this is like selling off the family silver — and I totally agree with them.

“But when the bills need to be paid what are you supposed to do?”