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Heritage Open Days Throw Open The Doors

Winter Gardens Heritage Tour

Recently I wrote on here about the number of excellent small parks we have in town, eclipsed in the public imagination by the iconic Stanley Park but all delightful in their own way. I was reminded of this when the press release for this year’s Heritage Open Days running between 8 and 11 September came through. There is a mix of behind the scenes talks and tours at some our tourism jewels, and events at lesser known venues with their own unique charm.

It is now over 20 years since the nation Heritage Open Day programme began in 1994. Ironically it is something we brought in from the European Union, and they are now held annually in September in all 50 signatory states to the European Cultural Convention.

The Fylde Coast contribution to this year’s UK offering comprises 26 events in Blackpool, 22 in Fleetwood and Wyre and 10 in Lytham St Annes. All events are free and in 2015 over 7,000 visitors attended sites in this area. Some of the programme will be familiar to many of you from prior incarnations of the event, so what follows is a detailed look at the six new events on the roster to give an idea of what you can try for the first time and show a cross-section of the experiences on offer.

On Friday 9 September at 2.30pm there will be a presentation in the Paradise Room at Blackpool Pleasure Beach by long standing friend of the resort Professor Vanessa Toulmin. ‘Designing The Pleasure Beach’ looks at the designers and artists who have influenced the landscape of the attraction since the 1900s. From the architect Joseph Emberton to leading British designers including Percy Metcalf and Tom Purvis, this lecture will reveal how the park has defined its style. Although there are 500 seats booking is essential for this event, contact [email protected], or phone 01253 301004.

On Thursday 8 September there is a chance to visit the Spitfire Centre in Hangar 42 at Blackpool Airport on Squires Gate Lane. Visitors will learn about the aviation heritage of the former RAF Squires Gate, and have the chance to view an iconic Spitfire. Although booking is not essential for smaller groups of visitors, larger groups should book in advance via [email protected]. You can also find out more on the Hanger 42 Facebook page.

On Saturday 10 September between 11 and 3 tours of St John the Evangelist Church are available. The Grade II listed building can be accessed via the central Blackpool square that bears its name. There will be access to the clock and bell tower with the original church bell, bell roles and hand bells. Stained glass window demonstrations will be available throughout the day, plus homemade refreshments will be available and no booking is required.

Changing tack but also on Saturday 10 September there will be access to the 108 year old AKS Lytham Independent School on Clifton Drive South, the building will be open from 11am to 3pm, with tours at 12 noon and 2pm. Access to the school archives will be available, and students will play some of their award winning music. No booking is required for this event. On the same theme and on the same day Matlock House in St Annes will be open between 10 and 4, a schoolroom in 1900 where the original tiling can still be seen.

Finally, throughout the four days the North Euston Hotel at Fleetwood will host an exhibition of the life and work of Decimus Burton, the architect who in essence designed much of the town of Fleetwood.  Hosted in the Burton Room that bears his name, the exhibition is open from 11am to 3pm each day and no booking is necessary.

For more information about any of the Heritage Open Days events visit Blackpool Heritage News Website. You can also like Heritage Open Days on Facebook or follow on Twitter @HODBpoolFyldeC.

Featured image courtesy of Jill Reidy.

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