10 FREE Heritage Open Day Highlights

Posted on September 1st 2016 by Whats on Northeast


From 8 – 11 September 2016, thousands of volunteers across the country invite you to experience local history, architecture and culture. All for free. We’ve trawled the list of all 359 events taking place in the north east and picked out 10 standout things to do:


1. Learn to play the spoons…

A unique opportunity to learn to play the musical spoons!

The Customs House, Mill Dam, South Shields, Tyne & Wear, NE33 1ES

  • Saturday 10 September: 11.00-12.00 & 13.30-14.30

Come along to The Customs House and try your hand at learning how to play the spoons properly in this fun and exciting workshop which has been specially put on for Heritage Open Days!

This new event will be led by popular local musician, Tom Stevenson – spoons will be provided. Event not suitable for children under the age of 5.

Find out more


2. Gan doon the Bigg Market toilets…

Bigg Market Toilets : Hidden History and New Opportunity?

Former Underground Gents WCs, Bigg Market, Newcastle-upon-Tyne , Tyne & Wear, NE1 1EE

  • Saturday 10 September: Viewings 11.15, 11.35, 12.00, 14.00, 14.20 & 14.45
  • Sunday 11 September: Viewings 11.15, 11.35, 12.00, 14.00, 14.20 & 14.45

A unique opportunity to take a peak inside the iconic Victorian subterranean gents toilets at the foot of the Bigg Market. The toilets have been closed since 2012 and are on Newcastle City Council’s Local List of Sites of Local Architectural or Historic Interest. As part of the wider Heritage Lottery / NE1 funded project proposals for the area, the building represents an interesting opportunity for reuse and repurpose. Each viewing slot will last 15 mins.

Find out more


3. Behold the mighty Wurlitzer…

Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre Pipe Organ Visitor Day

New Victoria Centre, High Street, Howden le Wear, Crook, County Durham, Dl15 8EZ

  • Saturday 10 September: 10.00-17.00

See and hear the only remaining Wurlitzer theatre pipe organ in the north east of England (and one of the largest and most versatile ones in the U.K.). Learn about the history of the instrument and how it was used in the cinemas of the mid-20th century. Find out how the organ works and look inside the two large organ ‘chambers’ which contain 1,375 organ pipes of all shapes and sizes, producing a great variety of musical tone – plus – a whole percussion department (of real instruments played by the organ’s mechanical action).

Find out more


4. Get on the beers…

Darwin Brewery Open Day

1 West Quay Court, Sunderland Enterprise Park, Sunderland, Tyne & Wear, SR5 2TE

  • Saturday 10 September: Talk 12.00 Ongoing tours until 17.00

A tutored beer tasting event concerning beer styles, craft brewing and flavour profiling with a focus on historical ales of the region, including a demonstration of historic beers and tour of the brewery on Saturday 12th September. Tasting and talk at 12 pm, followed by the tours throughout the day until 17.00. Event not suitable for children under the age of 18.

Find out more


5. Sample something completely different…

The Pathology Centre Tour

Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Gateshead, Tyne & Wear, NE9 6SX

  • Thursday 8 September: 18.00-20.00
  • Friday 9 September: 18.00-20.00

Ever wondered what happens to your samples once they have been taken? How long does it take to process a sample? Generally the first step is transport to the local pathology laboratory.

Pathology services are an essential part of the efficient and safe running of a hospital, analysing the thousands of tests done every day. In fact, Pathology services are involved in more than 70% of diagnoses made in the NHS.

The Pathology Centre is a new state-of-the-art facility, which operates at the cutting edge of delivery of Pathology services. The specialist unit comprises of some globally recognised new technology which provides health professionals with all the medical testing needed to run a modern hospital and deliver fast, accurate results for patients.

The tour will take visitors through the journey of a sample from start to finish and includes specialist biomedical scientists on hand to answer any questions as they are taken through the 4 major disciplines of pathology Event not suitable for children under the age of 16.

Find out more


6. Take a trip to the top…

Grey’s Monument

Grey Street, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Tyne & Wear, NE1 5BQ

  • Friday 9 September: 13.00-16.00 (half hour slots)

Grey’s Monument, erected in 1838 to commemorate Earl Grey and his contribution to the passing of the Great Reform Bill. Designed by Benjamin Green, the monument has a Roman Doric column of hard millstone grit 135 ft tall (50ft shorter than Nelsons Column), set on a base of local sandstone. It is topped with a limestone statue of Earl Charles Grey by the sculptor Edward Hodges Baily. A rare chance to climb the 164 steps to the top of the monument for outstanding views of the city. Event not suitable for children under the age of 5.

Find out more

the monument

7. Take a(nother) trip to the top…

Tees Transporter Bridge

Transporter Bridge Visitor Centre, Ferry Road, Middlesbrough, Tees Valley, TS2 1PL

  • Saturday 10 September: 10.00-15.00

There will be an opportunity for visitors to take a trip up the landmark Tees Transporter Bridge. Visitors will be able to climb 160ft above the River Tees in the new HLF supported glass viewing lift or by taking the historic route by means of 210 steps!*

Find out more


8. Go Green…

Ecological Self Build House

1 West Back Lane, Belford, Northumberland, NE70 7NR

  • Saturday 10 September: 12.00-16.00
  • Sunday 11 September: 12.00-15.00

Self build house under construction, (phase 1 complete; phase 2 ongoing). Structural timber post and beam; using locally grown and milled timber, sheep’s wool and wood-fibre board insulation, triple glazed windows and a sedum-planted roof. Solar thermal, passive solar and wood burning stove. Low energy and running costs. Re-use of brown-field site in rural location. Children are welcomed along with all other visitors but we have not made any special arrangements for them. All children MUST be supervised at all times on site and during the visit by their parents or accompanying adult(s). No limit on numbers in a tour but pre-booking is required for groups of 8 people or more (call 01688 213 046)

Find out more


9. The classic combination…

Archaeology and Artichokes

Lions House Allotments, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland

  • Sunday 11 September: Tours 13.00, 14.30 & 16.00

Often seen by walkers around Berwick’s walls, there’s a wealth of history and vegetables waiting to be unearthed in the Lion’s House allotments! Spend some time with local historian Jim Herbert discovering a forgotten 16th-century fort and the original south wall of the Elizabethan defences, a bowling green, ropery and icehouses. Oh, and how you can become a budding archaeologist in your own back garden.

Find out more


10. Get real…

Jesmond Dene Real Tennis Club

Matthew Bank, Jesmond, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Tyne & Wear, NE2 3RE

  • Thursday 8 September: 12.00-16.00
  • Friday 9 September: 12.00-16.00
  • Saturday 10 September: 12.00-16.00
  • Sunday 11 September: 12.00-16.00

Visit the Grade II listed Victorian Real Tennis court built in what was then the garden of Jesmond Dene House in 1894. One of about 25 Real Tennis courts in the UK. In daily use by members of Jesmond Dene Real Tennis Club. Real Tennis is the original racket sport!

Find out more

Jesmond Dene 2008


Nothing tickling your fancy? See the full list of Heritage Open Day events taking place in the north east.


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