Attractions, venues and churches throw open doors to public as part of annual scheme
Become lord and lady of the manor, go behind the scenes at one of Blackpool’s most famous night spots or find out all about the spooky stories from the past - whatever your interest there’s a venue for you during the Heritage Open Days this weekend.
The national scheme is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, and a host of attractions, venues and churches will be opening their doors to reveal an insight into their past.
Scores of venues along the Fylde Coast will welcome guests, hosting tours and talks about their heritage from Thursday to Sunday.
Among those taking part this year is The Grand Theatre, Blackpool, which is marking its 120th anniversary with an open day on Saturday, with archive displays and the opportunity to ‘wander and explore’.
Geoff Tolson, honorary archivist at the Matcham theatre, said: “It’s that time of the year when Blackpool celebrates its heritage by opening its hidden gems for locals and visitors alike to marvel at the range of Blackpool’s cultural diversity.
“Once again the Grand Theatre is proud to be a part of the annual Heritage Open Day scheme in the theatre’s very special 120 anniversary year.
“A working theatre has rare opportunities to invite the public to wander round and explore. Heritage Guides and Friends of The Grand will be on hand to help you to enjoy your visit to Matcham’s Masterpiece and there will be displays from the theatre’s archive collections.”
Also opening its doors is Funny Girls in Dickson Road, which was opened in the 1930s as the biggest Odeon cinema outside Leicester Square.
Although now know as one of the resort’s top entertainment venues, it has retained many of the original features, and guided tours will be taking place in Thursday and Friday at 10.30am.
And if you’ve enjoyed a trip along this year’s Lights’ display, take a step into the past and go behind the scenes at the Illuminations’ Depot at Lightworks, Amy Johnson Way.
The tours there, at 6pm and 8pm on Friday, include a video and all ages are welcome.
At Lytham Hall, visitors on Sunday will be prospective tenants - able to enjoy an open house viewing day with a glossy estate agents’ brochure.
The experience dates back to the 1920s, when the Hall was put on the rental market as resident John Talbot Clifton and his family were living in Scotland.
A not-so-glossy brochure from the time, without photos, promised would-be residents ‘shooting rights and a real organ to play. You could even sack the gardener, if you wanted’.
The hall is also seeking memories of the hall, from those whose ancestors may have worked on the estate
Another unusual opening, will be the art gallery at The Shrine Chapel, near Victoria Hospital, where curator Ann Charlesworth aims to ‘fill the pews with art’. It will open from Friday to Sunday, 11am to 3pm.
Annabelle Thorpe, from Heritage Open Days, said: “The point of Heritage Open Days is to encourage people to become aware of the historty on their doorstep, which it is easy to miss.
“People think it’s all about history and won’t be much fun, but in recent years the days have really changed, with things like vintage fairs and tea parties making them a real celebration of local history.”
Bispham All Hallows’ Church
86 All Hallows’ Road, Bispham
Informal historical chat and look around the mother church of Blackpool. Thursday and Friday 3pm to 4pm, tour 3.10pm. Saturday, 10am, tour 10.10am. Sunday services at 8am and 9.30am, tour 11am.
Blackpool Comrades Club
116 Adelaide Street, Blackpool
Tour of club and model railway, not suitable for under fives. Friday 2pm to 4pm, Saturday and Sunday 1pm to 4pm.
Blackpool Masonic Hall
83-85 Adelaide Street, Blackpool
Tours on arrival at this 19th Century Masonic building. Children welcome with an adult. Thursday to Sunday 10am to 5pm.
Blackpool Reform Synagogue
40 Raikes Parade, Blackpool
Invitation to attend services with the chance to talk to members of the congregation. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Friday 8pm, Sunday 11am.
Central Promenade, Blackpool
Established in 1864, Blackpool RNLI Station has long protected those along the resort’s coast. Attend a guided tour with its history and up to date news of Blackpool RNLI. Children to be accompanied by an adult. Viewing area for boats. Television screens to watch DVDs. Thursday and Saturday 11am to 12.30pm.
The Promenade, Blackpool
This Victorian Pleasure complex is 120 years old, take a guided tour to enjoy the many historic, architectural gems and see the many exciting new changes. Child friendly as along as accompanied by an adult, Friday 11am and 3pm
Blackpool Town Centre ‘History and Haunts’ Ghost Tour
Town Hall Steps, Talbot Square, Blackpool
Are you brave enough to venture out on this walking tour of haunted Blackpool? Children must be accompanied by an adult. Friday, 3pm.
Blackpool Town Hall
Talbot Square, Blackpool
Tour of Town Hall including the Council Chamber and Committee Rooms A and B. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Saturday 9.30am to 2pm.
Queen Street, Blackpool
Tours around the Grade II-listed Carnegie library. The library has undergone extensive redevelopment which has revealed many of its architectural features. Also the lovely stained glass windows are one of the new features. Thursday 9.30am to 5pm.
2 Revoe Street, Blackpool
The Religion of Islam and its culture will be discussed and visitors will have the chance to have a tour of the mosque. Thursday 2pm and 3pm, Saturday and Sunday, 2pm and 4pm.
Grundy Art Gallery
Queen Street, Blackpool
Tour of Grundy Art Gallery with a look into its past, the collection and the current exhibition by Heather Phillipson. Not suitable for children under the age of 10. Thursday 10am to 5pm. Friday and Saturday 10am to 5pm.
Holy Trinity Church
Dean Street, Blackpool
Recently sympathetically renovated to meet modern needs, this Grade II-listed building opens its doors to a church site used since 1836. There will be someone to take you on the tour to explain the church and its history. Child friendly as long as accompanied by an adult. Friday and Saturday 10.30am to 3pm.
Imperial Hotel Showcase
North Promenade, Blackpool
A showcase of the main rooms within the hotel and a talk on the many famous and distinguished residents past and present. Showcase will last 45 minutes. Children are welcome but must be accompanied by an adult. Tours on the hour, Thursday 11am to 4pm.
Lancastrian Transport Trust
Town Hall, Blackpool
Free Heritage bus tour linking other venues’ open day at LTT premises, from Corporation Street by the side of Town Hall and allows hop-on, hop-off at any of the other HOD venues on route. Sunday 11.30am to 3.30pm.
Talbot Road, Layton, Blackpool
Visit the atmospheric resting place of the famous people of Blackpool on these guided tours which last for about an hour. Child friendly accompanied by an adult. Saturday and Sunday 10.30am and 2pm.
Little Marton Windmill
Preston New Road, Blackpool
Three floors of the history of the Fylde Coast mills. Sunday 11am to 4pm.
North Shore Methodist Church
Dickson Road, Blackpool
Grade II-listed building, opened in 1907, with art nouveau style stained glass windows with flower and foliage design. Thursday to Saturday 10am to 4pm.
Pleasure Beach Resort
South Shore, Blackpool
A three-hour historical tour and explanation about the development of the Pleasure Beach over 116 years. This tour involves a substantial amount of walking so may not be suitable for those with mobility issues. Friday, 10am.
Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes
Whinney Heys Road, Blackpool
The Shrine was built as a Roman Catholic chapel and designed by Frances Xavier Velarde; it dates from 1955-7. Interior open to visitors. Saturday and Sunday 11am to 3pm.
St Stephen on the Cliffs Church
Holmfield Road, Blackpool
Opening of the church building including the famous Actor’s Chapel believed to be one of only two in the world. Special Heritage Service on Sunday at 4pm. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Friday, 12.30pm to 4pm, Saturday 10am to 4pm, Sunday 12.30pm t6o 4pm.
Church Street, Blackpool
Uncover the pure fantasy of Blackpool’s past entertainment by touring this truly remarkable Victorian entertainment complex. Meet at the Church Street Entrance in St John’s Square. Sunday 11.30am and 2pm.