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.
From 9-18 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. And building on last year’s successful debut, there will also be online and self-guided events too.
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. Across the city, there will be the usual chance to discover fantastic architecture and enjoy a wide range of events and activities that bring local history and culture to life. The city’s brilliant museums will be taking part and we will be focusing on our unique industrial heritage with a range of events that feature Stoke-on-Trent’s iconic bottle ovens.
There will be outdoor events too, with plenty of guided walks and tours, and chance to find out more about our canals and green spaces.
As part of this year’s programme, residents can discover Wedgwood’s ingenious innovations on their themed tour through the V&A Wedgwood Collection, taking people through Josiah Wedgwood’s experiments in the 18th century all the way to the current factory in Barlaston.
On 9 September, local historian Phil Rowley will be giving a fascinating talk about Penkhull-born Sir Oliver Lodge, who was a highly regarded scientist, pioneer of radio and electromagnetic radiation, and inventor of the spark plug.
On 11 September, the Potteries Heritage Society will be exploring the work of millwright and canal engineer, James Brindley, who set the blueprint for the canals of the eighteenth century and the emerging industrial revolution. People can discover how the dimensions of the narrow canals and narrowboats were forged in The Potteries. Also, the Regent Theatre will offer residents the chance to look behind the scenes of a working theatre with backstage tours, technical demonstrations and workshops..
On both weekends of the festival, Chatterley Whitfield Colliery are hosting open weekends (booking is essential).
There will also be events at Stoke Minster, the wonderful Bethesda Chapel, 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.
Search the online directory at www.heritageopendays.org.uk or go to www.stoke.gov.uk/heritageopendays
Councillor Dean Richardson, 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 and of course the astounding inventions that we are famous for.
“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 and embracing new ideas to enable residents to discover our hidden gems. I’d especially 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.”
Danny Callaghan, 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 I know that people won’t be disappointed with the fantastic range of events celebrating this years’ festival. I’m delighted that so many places are opening their doors and sharing their wonderful venues, and would like to thank everyone who makes this possible – including members of our organising committee and the venue staff and volunteers. I would encourage residents to embrace the opportunities to visit some of our iconic buildings – and learn how our astounding inventions have shaped not just the city, but the country.”
Andy Perkin, secretary of the Stoke-on-Trent Heritage Network, added: “Our brilliant network members have been meeting regularly to build an exciting and diverse programme of events to span the full 10-day festival. I’m pleased to say that we have a wide range of physical events for people to enjoy and explore – from beautiful places of worship, to historic potteries and our stunning museums. And at a time when residents are concerned about the cost of living crisis, I’m so pleased to confirm that all events are free. We are supported by an amazing bunch of dedicated and extremely knowledgeable people who love sharing their expertise, inspiring others and celebrating our wonderful city, and we can’t wait to welcome visitors to our venues.”