Open days delve into city’s past with new venues

Heritage Open Day at Sheffield City Hall: Alice Fitzpatrick starting the tour on the front steps
Heritage Open Day at Sheffield City Hall: Alice Fitzpatrick starting the tour on the front steps
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Historic buildings and landmarks in Sheffield are about to welcome visitors for the city’s annual Heritage Open Days.

Behind the scenes tours and the chance to look at historic documents and photographs are all on the agenda during this year’s events, running for four days from next Thursday.

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

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

“All of our venues this year are fascinating - and heritage doesn’t necessarily mean they’re all old.”

More than 50 venues have signed up to take part this year - including Cupola Gallery, Portland Works, Sheffield Cathedral, Manor Lodge and the Sheffield Tap pub.

In Crookes, ladies wearing Bustle dress of the 1880s will be leading ‘Bustle Walks’ around the suburb, looking at the buildings and explaining the social and historical context of the development of Crookes during the Victorian era.

Meanwhile BBC Radio Sheffield is offering visitors the chance to get to the heart of local news - meeting journalists, reading a bulletin and even watching a show broadcast live on air - and the Sheffield General, Walkley and Wardsend cemeteries will be offering tours.

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.”

These include Curzon Cinema - the old Sheffield Banking Corporation building - which is opening up its bank vaults, and Tapton Hall, once home to relatives of Florence Nightingale.

Sheffield Theatres will be hosting a walk around the sites of the city’s old music halls on Thursday night.

It takes months of preparation by a small team of volunteers to assemble the events.

“We began back in January, making calls to the people and places on our wish list that we’d love to see involved,” said Liz.

“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.”

Other highlights include tours of Cutler’s Hall and Madina Mosque, a 1930s tea dance in the City Hall Ballroom, a cycle ride on the Friday night and a pub walk with author Dave Pickersgill.

n Programmes are available now from local libraries, or visit www.sheffieldcivictrust.org.uk for details.