Heritage Open Days

Special Features


Every September, sites of historical significance throw open their doors to the public for the Heritage Open Days festival, allowing people to get up close and personal with the often-hidden history on their doorstep. This year marks the 25th anniversary of Heritage Open Days and with the support of the National Trust and players of People’s Postcode Lottery, the special programme of People Power is highlighting the communities, groups and individuals who have made an impact on the historical spaces – be it today or back when they were first created. Most local churches are involved, inviting visitors into their beautiful spaces that have been around for centuries, there are new blue plaques being unveiled, and family friendly events too. Whether you stay local, or visit somewhere interesting further afield, for the duration of the 10-day festival running 13th to 22nd of this month, access is free, and you get the chance to explore places not normally open to the public. In our feature this month we look at some of the places taking part in our region.

Walks and Tours

Roundhay Park – The Hidden History

Sat 14th & Sun 15th 11am and 2pm both days (starting at the Lakeside carpark)

Led by the Friends of Roundhay Park, the 2hr walk is an opportunity to visit some of the lesser known areas of the 700-acre park and learn more about its history. The journey will explain the development from medieval hunting area to family estate to public park, visiting a gazebo, the remains of a fishpond and the arboretum, plus more. No booking required but the walk is not suitable for pushchairs or wheelchairs.

Beckett Street Cemetery

Sat 14th, Sun 15th, Sat 21st, Sun 22nd all 2pm – 3.30pm

Take a tour around the second oldest public cemetery in the country. The graves of over 180,000 Leeds people give an insight into life and death in Victorian Leeds. There are also opportunities to find relative’s graves if you take along some details. 

Heritage Pub Walk

Thurs 19th 2pm, starting at the Adelphi on Hunslet Road

This 4-mile guided walk covers a wide range of city centre heritage pubs from the Adelphi, including Whitelocks, before concluding at the Templar where there is an opportunity to buy a drink and discuss issues raised during the walk. 

Booking is required for this event – email;


Leeds Civic Hall

Sat 14th & Sun 15th 10am to 3pm

Acknowledged as one of the finest Civic Buildings in Britain, Leeds Civic Hall was built in 1933. There are several stunning rooms to view such as the lavish Lord Mayor’s room and the Grand Council Chamber, as well as a special feature in the great entrance hall – the throne made especially for Queen Victoria when she opened Leeds Town Hall in 1858.

Herd Farm Activity Centre and
Iron Age Roundhouses

Mon 16th 10.30am – 12.30pm, Herd Farm Activity Centre, Harrogate Road

■ Herd Farm – Activity Centre & Iron Age Roundhouses. Image © Forest School Plus

This tour explores how a former working farm was transformed into a residential activity centre, complete with replica Iron Age roundhouses which are used to educate children about our prehistoric ancestors. The farm complex itself is Grade II listed from the 18th century.

Booking is required for this event – email;


Leeds General Infirmary and Old Medical School Tours

Fri 13th LGI tour 10am, OMS tour 11.30am; Mon 16th OMS tour 12pm, LGI tour 1.30pm; Weds 18th LGI tour 11am, OMS tour 12.30pm; Fri 20th OMS tour 11.30am, LGI tour 1pm.

Explore the LGI’s rich medical history in its Grade I listed building with timelines, information displays and oil paintings and statues of some of the early clinicians who were integral to Leeds’s medical heritage. The Old Medical School is Grade II listed, containing the original library and anatomy lecture theatre.

Classic Juke Box Factory Visit

Fri 20th 9.30 – 11.30am, Sound Leisure Ltd, Sandleas Way, LS15 8AR

See how retro music machines are put together in the world’s only vinyl record playing jukebox factory. This is a fascinating insight into the working factory for all ages, starting with a talk by MD Chris Black in the showroom before embarking on a tour around all the elements of jukebox production from the wood shop to final assembly and testing. 

Booking is required, visit www.eventbrite.co.uk

Voices of Tetley’s Brewery

Sat 21st & Sun 22nd, tours at 11am and 2pm, The Tetley, Hunslet Road

Hear anecdotes, stories and experiences from a former Tetley’s Brewery employee to discover all about the 200-year-old brewing dynasty. Includes a chance to see the brewery safe in the basement of the building.

Booking is required, visit www.eventbrite.co.uk

Getting to Know Lawnswood Cemetery

Sun 15th 2pm

A guided walk by the Friends of Lawnswood Cemetery around the Victorian section. Opened in 1875, the grounds and buildings were designed by architect George Corson who was buried there himself in 1910. There are Grade 2 listed monuments within the original Victorian 10-acre site, which expanded over the years to now cover 53 acres! Discover the people of Leeds buried there who helped develop the city.

Booking is required, email;



Uncovering the Past – 15 years of archaeological investigation at Thorpe Park

Fri 20th at 7pm, The Newman Centre, Crossgates

During this illustrated talk outlining the 15 years of fieldwork and post excavation assessment prior to the commercial development of Thorpe Park you will hear about the archaeological evidence found on the site which spans approximately 8000 years, revealing some regionally significant artefacts and features.

Too Feeble to Play?
Celebrating Some Extraordinary Women in Sport

Mon 16th 1-2pm The Leeds Civic Trust, Wharf Street.

An illustrated talk tracing the progress of women in sport and their struggle to achieve recognition, from races in ancient Greece to today’s Lionesses football team, including plenty of local sporting heroines!

Bramley: The People Powered Baths

Sun 22nd 12.30-1.30pm

Bramley Baths is the only remaining Edwardian bath house in Leeds, first opened in 1904. Now run by volunteers, this event is a chance to have a swim in the pool and enjoy the building whilst being joined by engaging speaker, former Leeds West MP John Battle who will tell you all about the history of Bramley Baths and their hopes for the future. 

Booking is required – call 0113 2560949


4000 Miles to Home – A Journey to West Yorkshire

Mon 16th – Fri 20th 10am – 4.30pm daily, The Reginald Centre, Chapeltown Road

This exhibition, a joint event between Leeds Civic Trust and Bradford Civic Society, displays photographs from the 1950’s by A.S Kang, who having travelled 4000 miles from the Punjab with his family, documents his unique life from his first childhood glimpse of snow and being the first Asian ‘Head Boy’ to his adult life working in West Yorkshire’s textile industry.

Left Bank Leeds – INF23 by Michael Shaw

Open all ten days between 10am – 5pm, Left Bank Leeds, Cardigan Road

■ Left Bank Leeds – INF23 by Michael Shaw. Image © Hamish Irvine Photography

This Grade II listed former church wows visitors on arrival with its high ceiling, huge stone pillars and beautiful Rose Window, designed by architect Temple Moore in the late gothic revival style. Rescued in the 1990’s it was transformed into a thriving arts centre, and for the Heritage Open Days Festival it is hosting INF23 by Michael Shaw, a huge inflatable installation designed to respond to the unique architecture.

Hidden Gems at Leeds Art Gallery’s Print Room

Weds 18th 10-11am

A rare chance to see behind the scenes at Leeds Art Gallery and explore its amazing works on paper collection. Discover rarely seen drawings and prints and find out how curators care for fragile and valuable works. You will see up close original art from J.M.W Turner to Andy Warhol!

Booking is required, visit www.eventbrite.co.uk

Family Friendly and Get Involved

People Powered Press –
Have a Go!

Sat 21st 10am – 3pm, Split Design Ltd, St Peters Buildings

Freedom of speech has always been crucial to human rights and democracy, and the printed word has played a huge part in this over the years. But did you know that Leeds has the world’s largest printing press, complete with Guinness World Record? Split Design are kindly opening their doors for you to drop in and get to grips with this huge printing press for you to make your own mark on the world!

Skelton Grange Environment Centre Big Green Weekend
Open Day

Sat 21st 11am to 4pm

The Big Green Weekend Open Day is a fantastic opportunity for the whole family to enjoy loads of fun nature-based activities including bush craft, games, nature trails and of course the café, on this 10-acre nature reserve teeming with wildlife which was once an industrial power station site!

Leeds Minster – Kirkgate

Open all 10 days. Includes organ recitals on both Fridays at 12.30pm, Sundays – Choral evensong at 5.30pm and tours on Tues 17th at 12.30pm, and Weds 18th at 11.15am

Visit this fascinating church where Leeds began. The Grade I listed building includes a rare Elizabethan table tomb, 13th century knight discovered upside down on the floor of the previous church on the site, mosaic panels and much more. There is a quiz available for children to complete. 

Miss Lily’s Victorian Circus Game and Exhibition

Sat 21st 12.30 – 5pm, Sun 22nd 11am – 3pm, Town Street Horsforth

■ Miss Lily’s Victorian Circus Game and Exhibition. Image © Lizzie Coombes

Fun for the whole family with Victorian Circus games, dressing up and learn to juggle and stilt walk, all at the same time as finding out facts about circus life and discovering the captivating characters who created British circus history.

Groundwork’s Heritage Open Day

Sat 21st 11am-2pm, Groundwork Leeds, Merlyn-Rees Avenue, Morley, Leeds

Groundwork’s head office was previously Wesley Street Mill. The open day celebrates Morley’s industrial heritage and the stories of the local people who were a part of mill life. This is a family friendly event with lots of activities from a 19th century themed photo booth, felting, sewing, crochet, woodwork and more. There is a chance to trace ancestry through guided online research, enjoy craft activities and plenty of old images of Morley to see.

Further Afield

Treasurer’s House, York

Sat 14th, Sun 15th, Sat 21st, Sun 22nd 11am-4.30pm

Wander through the house and uncover stories of royal visits as well as the extensive array of antique furniture, ceramics, art and textiles which Frank Green filled Treasurer’s House with. The first house to be donated with its full collection to the National Trust in 1930, there are also award-winning gardens with breath-taking views to enjoy. Ghost cellar and attic tours are also available. Afterwards, enjoy refreshments in the café. 

Wakefield Cathedral Tower Tour, Wakefield 

Sat 14th 11am, 12pm and 1pm

A chance to climb the historic tower and see Wakefield from a new perspective. Climb 170 steps to the top of the tower, where the tallest spire in Yorkshire rises another 94 metres above. See the 14 bells as well as magnificent views of the city and surrounding countryside. 

Booking advisable, email;

gillian.bunn@wakefield-cathedral.org.uk (once booked, you need to arrive 15mins early to register your attendance)

The Whitby Jet Heritage Centre, Whitby

Sat 14th, Sun 15th 11am – 4pm

This is an original 19th century jet workshop that was discovered sealed in the attic of a derelict building in Burns Yard. A chance to discover a unique piece of Whitby jet heritage. 

This is just a selection of what is on offer for the Heritage Open Days – there are hundreds to choose from, so see what interests you and get out there to discover the hidden historical gems of England!

For full address details of the ones listed in this feature, and a full list of events please visit the website;


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