Take 5 with the team – Even more festival travels

Now that the festival has wrapped up, I thought it would be the perfect time to take 5 and introduce myself - Hello! I'm Liam and I recently joined the Heritage Open Days team as Marketing and Projects Manager. I’ve worked in the heritage sector for the past 5 years and I love exploring and celebrating the diversity of heritage across the country.

August was a great time to get stuck in and I got to hit the ground running, from working to support event organisers to ensure they had everything they needed before their events, to accompanying our photographers at locations all across the country to capture the magic of HODs. I was lucky enough to visit 24 events across 10 days, so following on from our team highlights post, here is a recap some of the brilliant places I got to visit. 

© Liam Montgomery - The House at Lyme Park

The great outdoors (and a life beyond the M25)

I was immediately struck by just how many expansive green spaces and outdoor heritage sites there are across the country, and I much appreciated stretching my legs and discovering new places after 18 months trapped within the bounds of the M25. Of course London has fantastic heritage sites and parks, but it has a hard time competing with the worlds largest stone circle at Avebury, the splendid expanses of Lyme Park, the delights of Sheffield Botanical Gardens, and the open-ended experience of wandering the Coleshill Estate.

Delving into our culinary pasts

This years theme, Edible England, invited organisers to delve into local and national culinary history. In Winchester, I got stuck right in with a foodie-history tour of the Great Hall, a shellfish masterclass from Rick Stein's restaurant, and a visit to Stratton Lane Brewery to see how family-run breweries make their products. Although full of culinary treats Winchester is jam-packed with a wealth of heritage beyond what we eat, and a delight for anyone interested in transport history. This year saw a classic car parade and a showstopping display of bright green vintage buses, including one which was over 100 years old! Check out our spotlight post for a recap of some of this year's Edible England events from across the country.

© Liam Montgomery - Buses of Winchester

Industrial innovations and architectural marvels

Inspired by the transport heritage of Winchester and a trip to Swindon’s railway village, my stint in the north of England took a turn towards transport and industry with a visit to the Avro Heritage Museum, offering an interactive look at aviation history. I then toured Bidston Observatory a building originally used for astronomical and tidal calculations, which has been transformed into a creative space for artistic research. And a visit to Quarry Bank which illuminated the realities of working life in an 18th century cotton mill. I also got to discover the delightful Brindley’s Mill in Leek, a true local treasure and home to a working corn mill, also from the 18th century.

There was plenty of time to soak up some of the astounding architecture in the North of England with a tour of Leeds Central Library, a grade II listed building adorned with ornate tiles, sculptures and motifs, a walk around Liverpool University’s impressive Waterhouse Buildings, and a tour of the art deco exterior of the George's Dock Building in Liverpool. 

A New Wave of excitement

© Liam Montgomery - The Escape Room at Lyme Park

There were loads of exciting new events as part of our New Wave programme this year. The events were so geographically spread out that I could only make it to a few, but I had the pleasure of visiting Lyme Park to see how they had worked with local young people to reimagined one of their underused spaces as an escape room inspired by their collection. I also got to see how Wentworth Castle and Gardens collaborated with a local college to transformed their perfectly raked hillside into a pop-up cinema for a screening of Shrek (I was completely dismayed to learn that Shrek is now a 20-year-old film!). And finally, In Sheffield, the National Videogames Museum opened their doors for an out-of-hours showcase, letting visitors go ‘behind the screens’ to gain a colorful insight into their collection and latest exhibition.

And that’s a wrap…

I was blown away by just how much variety there is across the festival, and I am already looking forward to next year! After a busy month, I wanted to echo our thank you to everyone involved this year, from visitors, volunteers, organisers, and coordinators. It was wonderful to join the festival team at such a bustling time and visit so many amazing sites. Keep an eye on our social media feeds for pictures from this years travels and updates for 2022, or sign up to our newsletter to get updates straight to your inbox.

And very importantly, there is still time to win a month’s supply of chocolate by sharing what you thought of the festival this year. Find out more here!