Hidden cultural treasures and historic venues are being opened up to visitors for a series of free events to celebrate Stoke-on-Trent’s heritage.
During the festival, 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.
Celebrating 25 years this year, the national Heritage Open Days celebration will take place between September 13 and 23 – which will give people in Stoke-on-Trent plenty of opportunities to enjoy these important venues.
As part of the programme of events, Longton’s Gladstone Pottery Museum will be free to visit on Saturday, September 21. The Victorian pottery factory site was only recently voted winner of the Retail, Leisure, Culture and Tourism category at the Staffordshire Chambers 2019 Business Awards.
Visitors to Hanley Park will be able to join guided tours on Monday, September 16 and Wednesday, September 18 to find out how the park contributed to the Second World War effort.
At the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, there will be several events including a curator-led tour of the galleries to discover some amazing and surprising stories of People Power in the Potteries.
Some of the other venues taking part include Bethesda Chapel, Chatterley Whitfield Colliery, the Dudson Museum, New Inn Mill, Ford Green Hall, Hanley Town Hall, Middleport Pottery, Spode and Stoke Minster. There will also be events at the Ceramic City Stories, Regent Theatre, Etruria Industrial Museum, Trentham Mausoleum, and several places of worship. Families can also take to the roads, paths and canals as part of guided tours championing the area’s history. And Stoke Film Theatre will be screening Bill Townley’s 1960 feature film Baskeyfield VC, digitised by Staffordshire Film Archive.
For the first time, The New Vic Theatre will host Heritage Open Days events on Saturday, September 14.
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 Daniel Jellyman, cabinet member for regeneration, infrastructure and heritage, said: “I’d like to say a big thank you to the Potteries Heritage Society for organising such a fantastic range of events. It’s great that these open days are being organised by a dedicated group – demonstrating how far heritage and the appreciation of it has come. 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. And it’s all free. 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 go behind the scenes at Hanley Town Hall and see the old courtroom and cells in the basement. We’re delighted that so many venues are taking part. All of these events are supported by dedicated and extremely knowledgeable people who love sharing their expertise, inspiring others and celebrating our wonderful city.”
Bernard Lovatt, chairman of the Stoke-on-Trent Heritage Network, said: “Since launching the network in early 2018 our primary task has been to encourage heritage and cultural venues across the city and beyond to participate in Heritage Open Days, and to co-ordinate the programme. Thanks to the hard work of the committee I’m delighted that 33 venues are opening their doors, hosting 48 events and providing at least one place to visit on each of the 10 days the festival runs this year. I wish to thank the members of our organising committee and the venue staff and volunteers who make this possible, 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 throughout the year to build an exciting and diverse programme of events to span the full 10-day festival. We’ve proved that our approach works and are pleased to have attracted the attention of other Heritage Open Days organisers from around the country.”
**Speakers Corner will take place outside Gladstone Pottery Museum on Friday, September 13 at 12pm. Visitors will be able to find out about all of the upcoming events in Stoke-on-Trent.**