From a visit to the restored 1870’s water tower at Huddersfield Railway Station and a town centre lion hunt, to a talk on Harold Wilson’s role in the decriminilisation of homosexuality - there are nearly 60 free events in Kirklees during the 2017 Heritage Open Days festival from September 7 to 10.
Nearly half of this year’s venues are new and many support the three national HOD themes - the 50th anniversary of Conservation Areas, Heritage & Nature, and LGBT rights.
Kirklees has 23 conservation areas hosting heritage open days, as well as a large number of historic churches of all denominations and mills that tell the story of the district’s industrial past. The Tolson and Colne Valley museums, Greenhead Park and the Woodhouse Mill Ponds Nature Reserve are also staging special events.
Some sites are not normally open to the public, so the festival is a rare opportunity to peek inside listed buildings and explore the area’s diverse culture and history. While many events are being run on a drop-in basis, others need to be booked – and a few are already fully booked.
The Kirklees Heritage Open Days Committee has produced a brochure listing all sites and opening times. It can be picked up in libraries and other public buildings or downloaded from www.discoverhuddersfield.com or www.huddersfieldcivicsociety.org.uk
We’ve selected a range of events and sites that offer a flavour of what’s on offer - including a handful from neighbouring Calderdale. Within a 10-mile radius of Huddersfield town centre there are more than 80 Heritage Open Days. For those travelling further afield, there are around 5,000 open sites across the country in what is England’s biggest annual festival of heritage and culture.
- Huddersfield Town Centre Lion Hunt
Chris Marsden, chairman of Huddersfield Civic Society, and Madeleine Longtin, lead the annual search for the town’s stone, wood and plaster lions that adorn scores of buildings and public art. Bring binoculars and meet at 10.30 am on Sunday, September 10, at the Harold Wilson statue in St George’s Square.
- Huddersfield Library and Art Gallery
Go behind the scenes and see material from the West Yorkshire Archive in areas of the Princess Alexandra Walk building normally closed to the public. There are two tours, lasting 90 minutes, at 11am and 3pm on Thursday, September 7. Book a place by calling 01484 223200, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling at the library.
- Huddersfield Station Water Tower
The water tower at the railway station was used to supply steam locomotives in the 19th century and has been restored and converted into a base for the Association of Community Rail Partnerships. It’s a fine example of how old buildings can be brought back into use with a low carbon footprint. It’s open on Sunday, September 10, from 10am until 4pm. No booking needed.
- Longwood Sing, Back Thornhill Road, Huddersfield
Longwood Sing has been held every year since 1873 and raises money for local charities. This year it is on Sunday, September 10, at 2.15pm. Taking part are Golcar Band, Outlane Singers and school choirs in the outdoor amphitheatre at the foot of the Nab Tower. The event is free but there will be a small charge for programmes and refreshments.
- Pride and Prejudice: Harold Wilson’s Role in the Decriminilisation of Homosexuality
Royds Hall School in Luck Lane, Paddock, hosts a presentation about its most famous former student, PM Harold Wilson, and his involvement in changing the law on homosexuality. There will also be tours of the building. Open from 10am until 30m on Saturday, September 9. No need to book.
- Lindley People Graveyard Tour
St Stephen’s Church, Lindley, is hosting two days of events on Saturday and Sunday, September 9 and 10,, including a chance to explore the graveyard with David Verguson of Lindley History Research Group at 10.30am on Saturday. No booking needed.
- Walking with Women’s Suffrage in the Colne Valley
Join historian Jilll Liddington at the Harold Wilson statue in St George’s Square, Huddersfield, at 11.30am on Saturday, September 9, for a walk following in the footsteps of local sufragists and suffragettes. The walk ends in Slaithwaite around 3.30pm with a question and answer session and contributions from Cyrial Pearce, chairman of Huddersfield Local History Society. Walkers need stout shoes and will have to make their own way back into town.
- Victoria Tower, Castle Hill
The historic tower, completed in 1899 to celebrate the 60th jubilee of Queen Victoria, stands on a site that has human history going back more than 4,000 years. Tour the site, which is also designed at Local Nature Reserve, and climb the tower. Open from noon until 4.30pm on Saturday and Sunday, September 9 and 10.
- At the Anvil: Keeping Ironworking Skills Alive
Nigel Tyas Ironwork, Bullhouse Mill, Millhouse Green (nine miles from Huddersfield town centre towards Sheffield) is keeping traditional ironworking skills alive and has a small team of blacksmiths using techniques and tools that have barely changed in centuries. See them at work in the forge from 2.30pm until 5.30pm on Friday, September 8.
- Brighouse Heritage Town Walk
Taking in the canal towpath and important Victorian buildings, this four-mile trail from Thornton Square to The Rydings lasts for 90 minutes. It starts at 10.30am on Friday, September 8. No booking needed.
- Grand Opening of Calderdale Industrial Museum
The museum closed 17 years ago but from Saturday, September 9, will be open to the public every Saturday. There’s an opening ceremony at 1.30pm, led by patron Barrie Rutter (of Northern Broadsides fame) and doors will close at 4pm. For the opening weekend only the museum is also available to view from 10am until 4pm on Sunday, September 10. No booking needed. The museum is next to the new library development and re-vamped Piece Hall.
- Halifax Heritage Festival: Family Tours
Travel 250 years back in time and explore the famous Piece Hall, Britain’s only surviving cloth hall, with Georgian gent John Caygill. Tours are at 11am, noon and 3.30pm on Saturday and Sunday, September 9 and 10. Book at www.thepiecehall.co.uk/events There are other tours available over the weekend.
- Huddersfield & District Family History Society Exhibition
An exhibition of family history research relating to important historical figures in Meltham will be on show on Saturday and Sunday, September 9 and 10, from 10am until 4pm. There will be an opportunity for visitors to have some ‘taster’ research done on their families in the research room.
- St James Church, Meltham Mills: Operation Christmas Child and Community Cards
See the historic church and join the volunteers making gifts and sorting goods for underprivileged children - or try your hand at recycling greetings cards to be sold for The Welcome Centre in Huddersfield. There are hands-on sessions on Friday, September 8, from 10.30am until 3pm. On Saturday, September 9, the church is open from 10am until noon.
- Th’Owd Towser, Holmfirth
Thought to be the oldest building in Holmfirth, the Daisy Lane site dates from around 1595 and was built as a jail. It has served as a fire station, mortuary and ambulance station. It’s open on Saturday and Sunday, September 9 and 10 from 10am until 4pm. No booking needed.
- The Druid’s Hall, Holmfirth
See inside a Masonic Temple and learn the secrets and mysteries of the druids as well as the history of the Holme Valley Lodge’s founder members. Open on Saturday, September 9, from 11am until 2pm. Booking required, email email@example.com or call 01484 223200.
- All Aboard to Discover Halifax’s Hidden Gems
On Saturday and Sunday, September 9 and 10, Halifax Minster is offering open-top minibus tours of the town and its hidden historical gems. The tours last for 45 minutes and start and finish at the minster. There is a £5 charge per trip and booking is essential. Visit www.halifaxminster.org or call 01422 355436 for details.
- All Hallows Church, Kirkburton
Considered to be the most complete example of a 13th century church in West Yorkshire, this parish building is offering three days of events on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, September 7, 8 and 9, including graveyard trail, tour of the bell tower and a pop-up cafe. On Friday at 1.30pm there’s an organ recital.