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A record number of visitors celebrate Heritage Open Days
- 26 October 2015
The architecture and cultural heritage on display across the four days in September ranged from: access to fascinating guided walks, tours and talks, many of Rochdale borough's historic and religious buildings, Grade I listed Town Hall, the Pioneers Museum and Touchstones Rochdale. A visit by the mobile Yelloway Motor Coach Museum reliving over fifty years of holiday memories was on offer and special to this year's campaign was a FREE nostalgic trip aboard a vintage bus allowing visitors to absorb the heritage attractions in Rochdale town centre.
Head of Culture, Health and Participation at Link4Life, Darren Grice said, "This year the Heritage Open Days was a resounding success, bringing together groups, enthusiasts and the general public to celebrate in our fantastic buildings, venues and open spaces. I have no doubt that the celebration enabled us to reach and inspire many more people. It showcases the rich heritage and culture offer in Rochdale borough which is available not only during the Open Days, but all through the year."
Jane Lowe, Link4Life Visitor Services Manager, added: "I would like to thank all those who have dedicated their spare time to opening properties and staging activities. It is their knowledge and enthusiasm that makes Heritage Open Days such a great success."
Twenty-three different places of worship took part in the festival this year, with different faiths and values represented and the style and age of the buildings have been as diverse and interesting as the communities they represent. St John the Baptist Church, Bircle event organiser expressed: "We were amazed we had nearly 250 visitors. Visitors were interested in the stained glass windows, the Robert Thompson furniture, the bridal scene and floral displays – all in all quite an experience." Long Street Methodist Church and School in Middleton, with 157 visitors through their doors, were congratulated as one visitor said: "Wonderful, thank you for the visit – fabulous activities and buildings, information boards, lots of research – really enjoyed the visit." St Edmund's Church in Rochdale enjoyed a great weekend with 135 visitors and even a visit from the Mayor of Rochdale Borough. New attraction St John's Church, Hopwood hosted a heritage and craft fair attracting 120 visitors in their first year - drawing visitors from Heywood, Middleton, Rochdale and Shaw. Elsewhere, Church event organiser from Christ Church, Healey added: "A fantastic first Heritage Open Days with 300 adults, 105 school children and about 150 children attending the church and Fun Day".
New participant to this year's campaign, Hare Hill House in Littleborough opened to the public and displays animated the various incarnations of the House, including a Victorian Gentleman's residence; a World War 2 air raid shelter and a Council Chamber. With over 250 visitors to the venue, visitors were also treated to guided tours of the House, a glimpse of future plans of this iconic local heritage asset and the opportunity to appreciate the importance of the original residents of the House, the Newall family, to the development of the town. A visitor expressed: "It is fabulous that enthusiastic people are keeping the building alive. Well done to the guides, especially Iain."
Returning to the festival, Middleton's 'Grand Day Out' incorporating the opening the town's Golden Cluster buildings saw a spectacular footfall of 700 visitors embarking on a land train taking them around a circular route of places to visit. The Archaeological Excavation at The Grapes Inn – drew 200 visitors with guided tours of this prestigious site.
The unique history of Rochdale as the birthplace of the worldwide Co-operative Movement still fascinates, with the Pioneers' museum in Toad Lane attracting 136 visitors. Visitor had a special tour of the WW1 exhibition and discovered the stories of co-operative employees who became soldiers. This year the Rochdale Fire Service Museum drew in a greater crowd with 155 visitors. The Event Organiser said: the turnout result is clearly excellent and we are very pleased! Equally popular was Rochdale's stunning Grade I Listed Town Hall and Touchstones Rochdale whereby visitors took a closer look at their award winning Museum ceramics exhibition Jarred.
Heritage Open Days will return next September. To be part of next year's Heritage Open Day campaign or to find out more contact Jane Lowe at Touchstones Rochdale on 01706 924928 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.