Hidden cultural treasures and historic venues are being opened up to visitors for a series of free events to honour Stoke-on-Trent’s heritage.

Between 10-19 September, residents and visitors will have the unique chance to access events and properties that are usually closed to the public or normally charge for admission.

Since 1994, Heritage Open Days has been England’s contribution to the European Heritage Days and has since grown into the country’s largest community heritage festival. As part of this year’s programme, Ford Green Hall will be building this year’s theme of ‘edible England’ into their events, when they explore food, tableware and manners in the Tudor and Stuart times. Visitors will see tableware of the rich and poor and how was food cooked in an age before gas and electricity.

Ford Green Hall
Ford Green Hall

On 10 September, visitors to Hanley Park can learn about the history of foraging and wild food, whilst those preferring an online experience can take a virtual tour of traditional ceramic tile manufactory.

On both weekends of the festival, Chatterley Whitfield Colliery are hosting open weekends (booking essential).

On Sunday 12 September, residents can get on their bikes and ride with Potteries Heritage Society experts as they take in 20 bottle ovens in the north of the city. Experienced cyclists will be on hand to guide people through the 12-mile route and to relate the history and heritage of these local icons.

There will also be events at Stoke Minster, Ceramic City Stories and the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery. Families can also take to the roads, paths and canals as part of guided tours championing the area’s history. And Barewall Gallery, in Burslem will be paying tribute to Arnold Bennett.

Arnold-Bennett-statue-Hanley

For these events and more, visitors can search the online directory at www.heritageopendays.org.uk  or go to www.stoke.gov.uk/heritageopendays.

Councillor James Smith, the city council’s heritage champion, said: “This is such an amazing opportunity to take part in activities that bring local history and culture to life. Our city has some truly inspirational venues that tell the story of Stoke-on-Trent’s rich heritage – from beautiful places of worship, to historic potteries and our stunning museums.

“Heritage Open Days bring these often-hidden treasures to life for people who might never have experienced them. For example, visitors can get a unique chance to visit Chatterley Whitfield Colliery, which closed in 1977 and became a museum.”

“We’re delighted that so many venues are taking part especially after such a difficult year when they were unable to function normally. I’d also like to say a big thank you to The Heritage Network for organising such a fantastic range of events and Potteries Heritage Society for their support.”

Nerys Williams, chair of the Stoke-on-Trent Heritage Network, said: “Since launching the network in early 2018, we have been encouraging heritage and cultural venues across the city to participate in Heritage Open Days, and to co-ordinate the programme. I’m pleased that so many venues are opening their doors and hosting events. I would like to thank everyone who makes this possible including members of our organising committee and the venue staff and volunteers, and I hope the public will support the events.”

Andy Perkin, secretary of the Stoke-on-Trent Heritage Network, added: “Our brilliant network members have been meeting virtually throughout the year to build an exciting and diverse programme of events to span the full 10-day festival – some of these will continue to be online but I’m pleased to say that we have a wide range of physical events for people to enjoy and explore – and they’re all free. All of these events are supported by dedicated and extremely knowledgeable people who love sharing their expertise, inspiring others and celebrating our wonderful city. It will be great to welcome visitors back to our amazing venues.”

heritage-open-days-launch-july-2021
Pictured – in no order – Cllr James Smith (Heritage Champion), Nerys Williams (chair), Andy Perkin (Potteries Heritage Society), Ray Johnson – Arnold Bennett Society, Claire Studman (Hanley Park, Bernard Lovatt – Etruria Ind Museum, Phil Rowley, friend of Longton and rep from Bethesda Chapel.

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