Hundreds of buildings are opening up across Bath and North East Somerset as part of England's largest festival of history and culture.
Organised by the National Trust, Heritage Open Days gives families free access to museums, galleries, stately homes, science labs and lush community spaces. It's an opportunity to appreciate all the treasures - including those hidden gems - right on our doorstep in the West of England, and all without paying a penny.
Metro Mayor Dan Norris explored Unit 14, Midsomer Norton's new community space funded by a £19,000 cash injection from the West of England Combined Authority, ahead of the weekend fun.
The colourful community centre, opposite South Road Car Park, is one of 38 heritage sites in Bath and North East Somerset opening their doors for free from Friday 9 September to Sunday 18 September. Across the West, 66 free events have been planned in the 10-day period.
The Metro Mayor, who is running an Explore Local campaign, discovered the region's mining heritage when he met volunteers from Somerset Coalfield Life at their pop-up exhibition and even tried his hand at letterpress printing and corn crafting when he met Nick Hand from Bristol’s Letterpress Collective and volunteer Susan Burnett.
Other confirmed open events this year include the opening of a brand-new community café at Bath Elim Church on Charlotte Street and the chance to explore Keynsham’s amazing industrial history at the Grade II listed Albert Mill building, including enjoying the charming mill’s stunning gardens.
Events have been designed to offer people a chance to see another side to their communities, says Midsomer Norton Trust Engagement Coordinator Beth Whalley, who has helped organise all the fun, free events in the Midsomer Norton area, and showed the Mayor around on the day.
Metro Mayor Dan Norris said: “The festival is just around the corner, and it’s fantastic to see Bath and North East Somerset is putting on an incredible 38 events this year with a brilliant mix of historical and cultural sites to explore. We’ve got so much to be proud of and shout about here in the West of England. So whether it's an illustrated scamper through the fascinating history of the Museum of Bath at Work building, learning how a real-life mill works at Saltford Brass Mill or history and hospitality galore at the Sewing-Sanctuary in Midsomer Norton, there really is something for everyone this year. What better time than now for locals to get out and rediscover our amazing region”.
Speaking about the visit, Midsomer Norton Trust Engagement Coordinator Beth Whalley added: “We’re thrilled to be working with so many different community groups and artists to showcase the great things we have to offer in Midsomer Norton - from established heritage venues like the Somerset and Dorset Railway, to brand new destinations like Sewing-Sanctuary - and the wider region. Our aim is to encourage people to get out, explore, and see their local area through fresh eyes”.
A full list of free events is available on the Heritage Open Days website.