As every year since 1994, Coventry’s heritage and cultural delights will be throwing open their doors, welcoming the general public with open arms for another Heritage Open Days.
From St May’s Guildhall, one of the finest surviving examples of a medieval guildhall in the country, to the Belgrade Theatre, the first civic theatre to be built following the Second World War, there will be something on offer for all ages and interests.
But one of the things I really appreciate about Coventry's Heritage Open Days programme is its free heritage bus service that links Heritage Open Days sites in and outside the city centre throughout the weekend, between 10.30am and 4.30pm. Departing from the Coventry Transport Museum, visitors will be able to travel for instance to St John’s Church, Electric Railway Museum and Bagot's Castle. And there is also a rare chance to visit Coventry Transport Museum’s 35,000 sq ft open store. Plus, the buses in operation will be a piece of history themselves. Last year, I loved the 1963 Daimler double-decker bus from the Transport Museum's extensive collection.
Electric Railway Museum
I volunteer at Electric Railway Museum, which benefits from the national Heritage Open Days marketing as well as from the special bus service across Coventry. Take last year, when we were able to attract more visitors than through our own channels. Many visitors claimed that they simply didn’t know of our existence or that they got off the bus out of curiosity to see our venue. Of course we hope that these visitors return and further spread the word, increasing the visibility of Electric Railway Museum and the work that we do. Furthermore, the whole ethos of Heritage Open Days is about unearthing Britain’s heritage, and we found in Coventry that people use this time to go beyond the traditional tourist traps and embrace new attractions and interest areas.
But that's not the only benefit for us featuring in Coventry's Heritage Open Days programme. By working together for Heritage Open Days, venues across Coventry collaborate more with each other throughout the year, from leaflet exchanges to joined-up advertising campaigns. Cultural attractions often operate like an island and, due to heavy workloads and the specific detail of the jobs we all do, it can be easy to forget what is going on close by and how we can benefit each other. Heritage Open Days is one of the few times during the year where a clear window of opportunity arises for us to join forces and unite in our shared desire to preserve and present our nation’s heritage and culture in the best ways possible.
This year, we have joined up once again across Coventry to offer visitors a full Heritage Open Days package, and hope the success of the last September's event will encourage even more people to discover all that the city and its environs has to offer. Don't miss the bus!