07 Sep 2022
by Heritage Open Days

A mosaic of photographs from the festival including gardens, stained glass, pottery crafts and inviting doorways.

Gadgets & gizmos

  • Guess the gadget!: Local residents have done their homework and are ready to challenge you to guess the gadget. Curious items will be on display around the town, but will you find, and know, them all?! (Shoreham Society, West Sussex)
  • Mechanical marvels: From some rather special pencils recovered from a ship wrecked nearby in 1805 to a trailblazing tv that’s not just important to the history of Portland but to all television lovers! A trip to Portland Museum will be full of astounding stories. (Portland Museum, Dorset)

A machine poet

Alfred Gillett Trust (Somerset)

Come and discover Eureka, the Latin Verse Machine, a one-of-a-kind invention that creates Latin poetry. A piece characteristic of its time, Eureka remains an important part of the legacy of engineering, computing and poetry, and is available for visitors to gaze at in awe, just as patrons to Victorian exhibitions once did.  (© Alfred Gillett Trust)


  • Wheels on fire!: One of humankind’s earliest and most impactful inventions – dive into the history of water and steam powered wheels used in art and industry at Butcher Works. (Butcher Works, South Yorkshire) Or if you prefer the kind of wheels that help us move around by bike, road or rail then check out Castlepoint Transport Museum in Essex.  
  • What lies beneath: Unearth some of the ingenious interment inventions from Wombwell and beyond. From patented pipe-laying devices, Victorian funeral biers & cast-iron coffins, hear how these unusual contraptions changed cemeteries over the years. (Wombwell Cemetery, South Yorkshire)
  • Cutting cloth and mowing lawns: The humble lawnmower was such an extraordinary innovation at the time, it was tested in secret! See the cloth cutting machines that helped inspire its creation as well as early examples of the green machines themselves. (Stroudwater Textile Trust, Gloucestershire) BONUS – if you want to delve even deeper into the evolution of the lawnmower, head a little further north to the British Lawnmower Museum in Merseyside!

Change of plan!

From big wheels like this compound steam engine, to compact lawnmowers - inspiration can strike at any time and inventions changed from one purpose to another! (© Chris Allen)

Medical marvels

  • Wartime medicine: From blood banks, to plastic surgery, discover how medical innovation develops life-saving techniques vital to our military in this special trail of wartime medicine collections. (The Museum of Military Medicine, Surrey)

Artificial eyes

Leeds Civic Trust (ONLINE EVENT)

Ranging in use from healthcare to film and television, artificial eyes have undergone many developments, adding to their realism and ease of use. Join Dr Emma Storr for this talk on the history of a remarkable innovation. (© Wellcome Images / WikiCommons)

Food for thought

  • Microwaves and more: Love kitchen gadget, the microwave? Did you know that a 'cavity magnetron' - a high-power vacuum tube that was commonly used in earlier radar systems, is now the reason we can have microwaves? Learn more about this and the many inventions that came from WWI. (Open Cambridge, Cambridgeshire)
  • Champagne & Stinky Cheese: Anyone can be an inventor… and some of the best creations are accidental ones! Take a tour at St Benet’s Abbey to hear about some of them the things developed by monks. (Norfolk Archaeological Trust)

From fingers to forks

The Flintham Museum (Nottinghamshire)

Want to know how inventions have shaped what food we eat, how we eat it or shop for it? Then head to The Flint Museum to look at how we developed from hunter gathers, to growing crops, with some fun interactives to entertain all the family. (© The Flintham Society)

At your leisure

  • Hit for six: Cricket more your cup of tea? Join John Barclay, former Sussex County Cricket captain and current President of Sussex County Cricket Club at Winchester College to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the first ever cricket match and hear about the invention of this great game. (Winchester College, Hampshire)
  • Daytripper, yeah!: Pack up a picnic and take a trip – we’re off to the fort! Discover the origins of the tourist trade at this special event. (Burgh Castle Fort, Norfolk)

Back of the net

Subbuteo Passion and The Forum (Kent)

If you were a fan of the classic game ‘Subbuteo’ we have the event for you! Even if not, come discover the invention of a world-wide phenomenon! Celebrate Subbuteo’s 75th anniversary and get hyped for the Subbuteo 2024 world cup in Tunbridge Wells. (© Paul Willetts / Andi Sapey)

Extraordinary women

  • The Computing Countess: Did you know that the first computer programme was written by a woman? Discover more about Countess Augusta Ada Lovelace, a lady who was way before her time at this fantastic talk. (Leatherhead Community Association, Surrey)
  • 10 Women in 10 days: From the woman who electrified a cathedral to ‘The Spitfire Girl’ and ‘Lady of the Lamps’ - discover ten excellent engineers with this series of events, both in-person and online from the Women’s Engineering Society. (Women’s Engineering Society, Various locations including ONLINE)

Inventors in your community

  • Harrow’s local pioneers: A guided walk will explore the stories of local pioneers including ground-breaking work into mental health, the high-tech innovation of the turbo-jet engine, and a major Industrial Revolution inventor. (St Mary’s Church, Greater London)
  • What have Geordies done for us?!: In celebrating the incredible contribution of the people of the north east to the world of innovation, you are challenged to find the cuckoo in the nest! (Cresswell Pele Tower, Northumberland)

Designed in Deanshanger

Deanshanger Village Heritage Society (Northamptonshire)

This exhibition promises a fun day out for all the family discovering local inventors behind things as diverse as a mine ventilation fan and a Pot Noodle! (© Deanshanger Historical Society)

Become an inventor (fun for families)

  • Transport us!:  Join a family crafts session to explore the wonders of transport. Will you make a bridge, or a hot air balloon as you discover the work of a local inventor at the centre of Victorian innovation. (Wharton Park Visitors Centre, County Durham)
  • Meet our mad scientists: What does it take to be an Astounding Inventor? Get inspiration from the collections and earn your Inventor’s badge with the added help (or possibly hindrance?!) of two enthusiastic scientists! (Warrington Museum & Art Gallery, Cheshire)

An invention convention

The National Archives (London)

Explore the extraordinary world of weird and wonderful inventions. Learn more about the umbrella with eye holes, the ventilating hat and reversible trousers, and why these unusual and often outrageous innovations were created. Drop into a ‘maker’s station’ where budding inventors can put their ideas on paper and get constructing. Draft, sketch and prototype your ideas, with the help of inventor and YouTuber Ruth Amos. (© The National Archives)

PLEASE NOTE - These events were accurate at the time of publication but the details may change. Some events require pre-booking. Please check the individual entries for updates and details.

Find out more

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