Monday, 1 September 2014

Heritage Open Days offer free admission to key local tourist attractions

Lancaster Maritime Museum. Image: Lancaster City Council

The Lancaster district will be throwing open its doors again this year when local buildings of every age, style and function take part in the biggest free celebration of England's history, heritage and culture.

2014 is a landmark year for Heritage Open Days – celebrating 20 years of putting local heritage at the forefront of community life and opening up an opportunity to commemorate the centenary of World War One.

Taking place over four days from Thursday 11th to Sunday 14th September there will be more than 30 different openings as well as guided tours and events taking place which will allow people to explore some of the district's hidden gems and bring local history and culture to life.

Free access to many buildings which normally charge or are not usually open to the public, include Williamson Park’s Ashton Memorial and Butterfly House, The Storey and its hidden gardens and the Bell Tower at the Priory.

Inside the Wagon Works on Caton Road in 1914, used as a billet by the 5th Battalion. Image: King's Own Regimental Museum

Some of this year’s events will also carry a World War One theme with an exhibition at the King’s Own Royal Regiment Museum and tours around a former barracks and POW camp for German soldiers at the old Wagon Works on Caton Road, Lancaster (now Standfast and Barracks Printing Works).

As part of the Heritage Open Days weekend, Morecambe will be celebrating too, with a number of events including the famous Bradford to Morecambe Historic Vehicle Rally on Morecambe Promenade. The Winter Gardens is hosting a display of classic motor cycles in the auditorium of this famous old Morecambe theatre, and for the first time this year, discover Sunderland Point’s rich maritime history with a guided walk around this fascinating headland.

Councillor Ron Sands, cabinet member for culture and tourism, said:  "This year’s Heritage Open Days is set to be bigger and better than ever before and will not only give local people and visitors a once-a-year chance to discover our wealth of hidden architectural treasures but also enable them to take part in commemorative events for World War One.”

You will need to book in advance for some activities as places are limited.  Disabled access is available to at least some parts of the many participating venues, so it’s advisable to check in advance.

• You can pick up a programme containing full details of property openings and special events during this year’s Heritage Open Days from visitor Information centres and town halls at Lancaster and Morecambe.  The programme is also available online at  

Find out more about the Wagon Works on Caton Road during World War One on the Kings Own Regimental Museum site

• More information about nationwide events can be found at  


Oliver said...

I don't want to seem ungrateful but most of these Heritage Open Day events have been on offer every year I can remember, apart from one or two new tours linked to World War One commemorations (what IS it about us Brits and WW1??) Many of them are no more than free admission to sites which usually charge - nice but not exactly earth-shaking. I don't see that Cllr Sands has got any more to be proud of next weekend than he has of his famous rebranding. He could try having a look at Scotland's Open Doors events - for example, I'll be in Dundee where there are 47 different sites or events to choose from, many of them imaginative, unusual … and new. Could do better!

Virtual Lancaster said...

Like others, Councillor Sands and the local tourism team have to make the most of what's available to them, especially in terms of allocated resource, which is an ever-decreasing pot. The history of the events team and Lancaster Festivals in general has been one of slow erosion down the years with once superb events - who recalls the Georgian Festival, for example? - cut by past council administrations. You're right, more could be done - check the Council web site to see if they are holding events in Market Square to tie in with the Heritage events - but in a time of austerity imposed by a government that happily takes the lion's share of locally gathered Council Tax rather than letting councils keep it, there are hard choices being made every day in terms of what can be done. In every area of council finance.