Sheffield’s got a whole lotta history

Sheffield Theatres will be will be offering a walk and talk pocket history of music and theatre in the city
Sheffield Theatres will be will be offering a walk and talk pocket history of music and theatre in the city
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Come turn back the clock in Sheffield next week and celebrate all that the steel city’s fascinating heritage has to offer.

Historic buildings and landmarks are preparing to throw open their doors for the UK’s annual Heritage Open Days 2015 event, which kicks off next Thursday September 10.

Wardsend Cemetery will be giving visitors the opportunity to get to know some of its residents a little better...

Wardsend Cemetery will be giving visitors the opportunity to get to know some of its residents a little better...

Now in its 21st year, English Heritage is giving us yet an other chance to celebrates England’s architecture and culture by allowing visitors across the country a sneaky peek - and free access! - to all those places of interest that are usually closed or charge an entrance fee.

Live radio, behind the scenes tours and peeks at historic documents and photographs are all on the agenda this year, running for four days until Sunday September 13.

“Let’s face it, we’re all dead nosey,” laughed Liz Godfrey, trustee of Sheffield Civic Trust.

“We’re always going past places and thinking ‘I’d like to have a look in there.’ This is your chance.

Curzon Cinema will be opening up the 200-year-old bank vault that once belong to Sheffield Banking Cooperation

Curzon Cinema will be opening up the 200-year-old bank vault that once belong to Sheffield Banking Cooperation

“All of our venues this year are fascinating - and heritage doesn’t necessarily mean they’re all old. We have places featured that are incredibly cherished locally and could well become historical landmarks down the line.”

55 venues have signed up to take part this year - including Cupola Gallery, Portland Works, Sheffield Cathedral, Manor Lodge and Sheffield Tap - offering the people of Sheffield a rare chance to see for themselves the behind-the-scenes workings of some of the city’s proudest heritage.

In Crookes, ladies wearing Bustle dress of the 1880s will be leading ‘Bustle Walks’ in the area, looking at the Victoria buildings and explaining the social and historical context of the development of Crookes in Victorian times.

The nearly 50-years-old BBC Radio Sheffield are offering visitors the chance to get to the heart of local news - meeting journalists, sampling the technology and even watching a show broadcast live on air. For those who’ve always fancied a career behind the mic, there’ll even be the chance to try your hand at reading a news bulletin.

Visit BBC Radio and have a go behind the mic

Visit BBC Radio and have a go behind the mic

Sheffield General Cemetery will offer history tours of its Victorian settings, and the chance for visitors to get to know the cemetery’s residents a little better. Walkely Cemetery will unearth stories of the buried; rich, poor, footballer, refugee, priest - while Wardsend Cemetery’s ‘Fatal Attraction’ tour offers a fasinating 130-year history of its residents and all that is spiritual.

Liz said: “As well as the great places people will already have heard of - such as the Cathedral and Portland Works - we have some great hidden gems this year.

“There’s Curzon Cinema, which used to be the old Sheffield Banking Cooperation from 1840, and is opening up the old bank vaults to the public .

“There are two Basil Spence Churches in Sheffield - who was the architect of Coventry Cathedral - and used St Catherine of Siena Church, in Woodthorpe, and St Paul’s Church, in Parson Cross, as trial runs for his masterpiece.

“There’s Tapton Hall which, as well as its masonic roots, was once home to relatives of Florence Nightingale, and Sheffield Tap which will be giving talks and tours of their Edwardian waiting rooms and will be putting on a special badged beer in honour of Heritage Open Days.

“Sheffield Theatres will be hosting a ‘Walk and Talk Pocket History’ around the sites of the old music halls in Sheffield on Thursday night.

“There’s also The Electric Works, cutting edge modern offices and home to creative companies, animators and film-makers. Their wonderful building is a hub of creativity and there’s even a helter-skelter, which they use instead of stairs and lifts that I’d highly recommend giving a go.”

Liz revealed that it takes months of work and preparation by a small team of volunteers to get everything in place for the four-day event.

She added: “We began back in January, making calls to the people and places on our wishlist that we’d love to see involved. This year we have about 23 new venues which is fantastic news for us and proves there really will be plenty of new things for people to see this year.

“The Civic Trust took this event over three years ago when we realised that a city our size had just eight places open during Heritage Open days - and most of them were churches. We’ve worked hard and are so proud of this programme. Our volunteers are all so enthusiastic; they just love welcoming visitors in and could talk all day about their venues.”

Collect your programme from a library or visit www.sheffieldcivictrust.org.uk for details.