Historic South Yorkshire buildings open doors for free

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HISTORIC buildings across South Yorkshire are preparing to open their doors to the public - for free.

Everywhere from churches to cinemas will be opening their doors offering behind-the-scenes tours as part of the annual Heritage Open Days.

Funded by English Heritage, the event ‘celebrates England’s fantastic architecture and culture’ by offering free access to places usually closed to the public or which normally charge for admission’.

Buildings opening in South Yorkshire include Abbeydale Picture House, Sheffield City Hall, the Grade II-listed Manorial Barn in Whiston and St Oswald’s Church in Kirk Sandall.

Katja Condy, of English Heritage, said: “Who says history is just about grand houses and imposing castles? Every high street in England has its own story, every town and village its tales to tell.”

Mansion House, High Street, Doncaster, will be open on the Friday and Saturday, from 10am to 3pm, offering people the chance to see its collection of furniture and paintings.

Tours of the Arts Tower in Sheffield are on offer on the Friday. Booking is essential for one of the six tours of the 250ft-tall, Grade II*-listed Sheffield University building.

Paul Turner, project manager in the university’s estates and facilities department, said: “The university has embarked on a major £36 million refurbishment project of the iconic Arts Tower to restore it to its former glory, safeguard its future by extending its life for a further 30 years and upgrade the interiors.

“The 22-storey tower block is a 1960s glass curtain walled building that housed some 2,500 students and 300 staff and at 78m tall, is still the tallest educational building in the United Kingdom.

“It also houses one of the world’s tallest operational paternoster lifts - a cyclic elevator - which was completely restored and upgraded.”

n Visit www.heritageopendays.org.uk for information.