More than 60 historic buildings will be open across West Cheshire as part of Heritage Open Days weekend (September 7-10), along with walks and talks including 20-plus bookable tours.
Properties and attractions open their doors free of charge every year in a national initiative now in its 23rd year.
The local event, organised by Chester Civic Trust and Cheshire West and Chester Council, grows bigger every year thanks to the generosity of building owners and managers.
This year Chester Rows will take centre stage for a special artistic presentation.
All Things Considered Theatre and artists Heinrich & Palmer will host two artistic activities using public spaces along the Rows; combining multimedia installations and live interactive performance to create a ‘unique insight into Chester’s historic Rows’.
Many historic buildings will be open to the public including Watergate House, a fine Grade II* listed building in Lower Watergate Street, Chester, designed as a town house by Thomas Harrison for Thomas Potts, clerk of the peace, in 1820.
Also opening its doors is the University of Chester Riverside Museum (Thursday September 7 and Saturday September 9) with its collection from the world of medicine, nursing, midwifery and social work.
There will be guided tours of Chester Rail Station, Chester Racecourse, Bridgegate House, Poulton archaeological dig, Chester Blue Coat CE Primary School, the Albion Inn and Western Command in Handbridge at the university’s Queen’s Park campus.
Tours of Western Command must be booked in advance and will be available on Thursday only, between 2pm and 3pm, and 3.15pm and 4.15pm.
Cllr Louise Gittins, cabinet member for communities and wellbeing, said: “Heritage Open Days is England’s largest festival of history and culture with over 2,500 organisations, 5,000 events and 40,000 volunteers.
“I’d like to thank all of the businesses and property owners welcoming visitors to their historic properties. Our buildings are open free of charge but please check the brochure for opening times, the guided tours are always very popular with limited numbers and advanced booking is required for most of them.”
The former Queen’s Cinema in Ellesmere Port, the National Waterways Museum and Action Transport Theatre (Whitby Hall) are included in Ellesmere Port. There will be guided walks in Parkgate on both Saturday and Sunday. Frodsham includes The Ring O’Bells, Bear’s Paw Hotel and Old Hall Hotel.
Northwich has more buildings than previous years; both the Anderton Boat Lift and the Lion Salt Works will be offering free guided tours. CRS Consultants are opening their Parrs Bank building on Friday 8 for two booked tours including a film and talk. Visitors to The Plaza Cinema on Witton Street can view the ornate auditorium and stage of the Grade II listed 1928 cinema. There are tours of the Victoria Club on both Saturday and Sunday. The Dock Road Pumping Station, a Grade II listed Edwardian building dating from 1910, is open on Sunday, September 10.
Winsford Library has displays from the Local Studies Collection, Crosshatch Gallery’s ‘History of the River Weaver and it’s Salt Legacy’ on Thursday 7 while local historian Tony Bostock gives a free talk ‘Winsford a Town Built from Salt’ at the library on Friday 8.
Harbutts Field in Middlewich was the site of a Roman Auxiliary Fort and associated ‘Vicus’, and is a scheduled monument. Middlewich library, the Roman trail and interpretation boards tell the history of the site. On Saturday 9 and Sunday 10, Middlewich Roman festival, taking place on Harbutts Field, off King Street, will explore these roots through activities, re–enactment, mini tours and Living History.
The Heritage Open Days brochure is available from libraries, Grosvenor Museum, Chester History and Heritage, Weaver Hall and The Lion Salt Works plus other public buildings. Or download from the Chester History and Heritage website by clicking here.