Saturday, 8 September 2012

Opening up the past

You might be interested to know that on just a few special days each September you get a rare opportunity to see inside some of the most amazing buildings in the country, absolutely free.

In 2012 this wonderful annual national event falls this weekend.

Once a year, on Heritage Open Days, a large number of historically and architecturally interesting buildings open their doors to members of the public all over England, allowing people to see British building gems for free. Perhaps more interestingly, many buildings open up areas that visitors normally don’t get to see. Some of them may not be open at all for the rest of the year. This makes Heritage Open Days a great weekend for anyone who’s interested in architecture or local history and heritage.

Naturally, this includes some buildings in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Farfield Mill Arts & Heritage Centre near Sedbergh is offering free entry on Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 September, giving you a great chance to see heritage displays and working looms, as well as craftspeople in action in the many artisan studios it houses. Elsewhere, historical churches will be happily welcoming visitors; St Margaret’s Church in Hawes will be offering tours and cream teas on Sunday, while St Wilfrid’s Church in Burnsall will be offering refreshments on Saturday and Sunday.
Linton Falls Hydroelectric Power Station is now providing
power to local homes again after nearly 100 years
 (courtesy of J N Bentley)
For something a little different, the recently restored Linton Falls Hydroelectric Power Station is a great example of the technologies of the past being used in modern times. After a century of neglect the turbine house – a scheduled monument – has been fully restored to its former glory, and on Thursday and Friday of last week visitors had a rare opportunity to see inside.

You can still ‘sneak a peak’ at this Edwardian building, and the newly installed Archimedean screws that power 90 family homes this year, by taking a short stroll along the River Wharfe between Grassington and Linton - there's an interpretation panel outside that will tell you more about its fascinating history. And if you're local, look out for special school visits, too.

Gold Viking ring uncovered at Sedbergh in 2008,
now on display at Dales Countryside Museum, Hawes
And there's still time tomorrow to absorb some fascinating Dales stories, get hands on with interactive displays and explore some amazing exhibits - including a gold Viking ring found in Sedbergh - at our own Dales Countryside Museum.

The aim of Heritage Open Days is not only to raise public awareness of some beloved and important buildings, but also bring people together by opening these local landmarks up for people that might otherwise not have visited them. Whether you’re hoping to learn more about local history and tradition or you just want to try something different, this weekend is a great opportunity you shouldn’t miss out on.

If you're interested in the historic buildings of the Yorkshire Dales National Park take a look at our webpages and learn how we help care for them. While you're there don't forget to delve into the curious world of our Feature of the Season - highlighting some of the smaller, hidden gems of this special place!

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