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Doors open in September as Rochdale borough celebrates its heritage
- 16 August 2016
Image © Atheer D Mahir. A friend of St Edmunds Church.
Now 22 years old, the event is billed as England's largest voluntary cultural event which 'opens the doors' to various venues in the borough, many of which are normally either closed to the public or charge an entrance fee.
Running for four consecutive days, from Thursday 8 to Sunday 11 September, this is a once-a-year chance to enjoy events and activities which bring to life local history and culture. All free to explore, buildings of every age, style and function across the borough will be opening, along with fascinating guided walks, tours and talks.
The open days are co-ordinated nationally by the Heritage Open Days National Partnership with Link4Life's Arts and Heritage Service organising locally, the event thrives upon the enthusiasm and expertise of local people as thousands of volunteers from all walks of life share their knowledge and memories. And with exciting new additions to the programme, festival co-ordinators are expecting this year to be even bigger and better.
Acknowledging the enthusiastic support received from the many different organisations taking part, Darren Grice, Head of Culture, Health and Participation for Link4Life said, "Rochdale punches well above its weight in terms of its fantastic heritage and it's great to have four days that shines a light on all the hard work and dedication of volunteers, groups and organisations who work year round to keep our heritage alive and accessible. I would encourage everyone to get out over the course of the event and have some fun enjoying the heritage of our Borough."
Many of Rochdale's historic and religious buildings will open including the Grade I listed Town Hall, the Pioneers Museum and Touchstones Rochdale which will welcome a visit by the mobile Yelloway Motor Coach Museum reliving over fifty years of memories of day trips and holidays. In partnership with Yelloway Motor Coach Museum, Touchstones operated by Link4Life will be providing circular tours on the Saturday on the hour from 11am to 2pm, where you can take a free, nostalgic trip aboard a vintage bus taking in the heritage attractions in Rochdale town centre.
After the success of last year, Christ Church in Healey will open this year for a second time. For the Heritage Open Days, there will be an exhibition of historical documents, with original letters from founders Jacob Tweedle and Albert Royds. The church will also hold a Heritage Fair Day on Saturday 10 September with home bakes and craft stalls and a variety of children's activities, fun and games for all ages! There will be a grand re-opening of the bell tower and visitors will be able to access the ringing chamber following its recent restoration.
It's Middleton Golden Cluster Month throughout September with three medieval buildings, St Leonard's Parish Church, The Queen Elizabeth 1st Grammar School (Tuesday only), the Olde Boar's Head and England's first Art Nouveau Church, Long Street Methodist Church will open their doors free of charge on Tuesday and Friday afternoons from 1pm.
Many of Heywood's historic churches will be open and local residents can step back in time to the 1930s to visit the courtroom and cells of the town's iconic former Police Station.
On the edge of the Pennines, Littleborough will be inviting visitors to explore Hare Hill House with animated displays of the various incarnations of the house and displays of the proposals for the future of the iconic local heritage asset.
In Milnrow, the Grade II listed Carnegie public library will be open for visitors with an opportunity to browse the library, or view their local history collection and display. Also, on view is their newly opened meeting room.
Councillor Janet Emsley, cabinet member for Culture, Health and Wellbeing at Rochdale Borough Council: "Rochdale has a rich and diverse heritage of which we can be rightly proud, there is so much to discover within the Borough. There are hidden gems in all the Townships. Take some time out to visit somewhere you haven't seen yet or revisit old favourites to invoke your childhood memories. You'll be surprised and delighted at what you find!"
Full details of this year's Heritage Open Days programme, and how to pre-book onto the free sessions, is available online at www.link4life.org/hods. Copies of a twelve page colour brochure produced by Link4Life can also be picked up from the Visitor Information Centre at Touchstones Rochdale and at local libraries and leisure centres.