12 of the best Heritage Open Day events in Yorkshire

The Fat Cat at Sheffield's industrial Kelham Island

The Fat Cat at Sheffield's industrial Kelham Island - Credit: Archant

There are plenty of fabulous things to see and do in the county this September, from a Sheffield pub walk to a glimpse of a secret garden

The might Sunny Bank Mill

The might Sunny Bank Mill - Credit: Archant

Sheffield pub heritage walk

Dave Pickersgill, Pub Heritage Officer for Sheffield and District CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale), is leading a walking tour around the so-called ‘beer capital of Britain’. He says: ‘My involvement started back in 2015, when Sheffield HODs contacted Sheffield & District CAMRA. I led one walk that year and have continued to do so since. I also lead walks for Sheffield Beer Week in March – this year’s, on March 13th, was actually the last time I visited a pub before lockdown. This will be my sixth year leading walks for HODs. I’ve got it down to a fine art now!’ The walk starts at the Fat Cat pub in Kelham Island, a famous pub in beer circles after it doubled the range of beers available in the city overnight when it was taken over in the 1980s. After a short introduction from Dave (and time for a quick pint!), the walk heads off following a 1.2-mile route, passing the oldest working brewery in Sheffield and myriad industrial sites, before finishing at the Sheffield Brewery Company for a tour and a drink or two. ‘We take in some interesting bits of Sheffield,’ says Dave. ‘For example, The Grapes on Trippet Lane is where the Arctic Monkeys performed their first gig as teenagers, and it has gold discs on display in the back room. And the Cavendish Building on West Street has three different date stones as it was built in three parts, with a gap in the middle for WW1. ‘I take groups of about 15 people, generally a 3:2 ratio of men to women, but it’s not all retired beer geeks, it’s quite a mixture of young and old and local and international. It’s fun and the feedback is always good.’

Date: September 11th, 4pm (booking required) To book a place, visit. The event may be changed or cancelled in light of Covid-19 guidelines. More pub heritage walks are scheduled to take place for Sheffield Beer Week in March 2021.

William Gaunt demnstartes the weaving process

William Gaunt demnstartes the weaving process - Credit: Archant

Sunny Bank Mills, Farsley,

Sunny Bank Mills in Farsley, one of the last remaining family-owned mills in Yorkshire, will be hosting its ninth year of HODs events, with much more of a focus on the digital side of things this year. Co-owner and managing director William Gaunt says: ‘We are getting the archive digitally recorded in 3D, which will be available on our website, so people will be able to zoom in on artefacts. We are also recording video tours of the mill, which will be online. It’ll actually be nice to have them on record, so people can see the mill without visiting – at any time and from anywhere in the country. ‘But we’re still running some tours in person over the HODs weekend. We usually have about 30 people on our tours, but this year we are limiting it to groups of five, by appointment only. We felt it was important not to be entirely beaten by Covid-19 and to still deliver something, and we have the space and scope here to do it safely.We’ll also try and stream the tours on Facebook Live, so people can ask questions from home just as they would in person.’ In addition to this event, William is preparing to launch weaving classes at the mills in September. ‘It has been a tremendous labour of love,’ he says. ‘Our family has been weaving wool cloth for generations, so when we sadly sold our family textile business in 2008, I thought it was the end of my weaving career. ‘But I managed to track down the handlooms on which I had been taught when I studied textiles at university. I was determined to bring them back to life, as they are a century old. The nice thing about old machinery is that it always works, there’s no need for software updates, it just needs a little TLC.’ Now William has restored eight looms and a number of courses will be taught on them at the mills. ‘The skills of weaving will not be lost in this famous wool village of Farsley,’ he says.

Date: September 11-13, 10am-4pm Details: See

Whirlow Spirituality Centre Front Lawn and Cairn

Whirlow Spirituality Centre Front Lawn and Cairn - Credit: Archant

Beverley open gardens

‘This year’s theme of Hidden Nature is great for Beverley,’ says organiser Barbara English. ‘We are unable to open private houses and schools, but we’re opening 15 gardens over one weekend, stretching north from the Minster, and the route between all of the gardens can easily be walked. Everyone has spent a lot of time in their gardens recently, so they are looking perfect. You could sleep on some of the lawns!

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‘One of the most exotic (25 North Bar) belongs to sculptor Peter Naylor and his wife Philippa, an author, quilter and textile artist. The garden is almost a farm, with ducks, hens and geese, and an ecological water supply. Many of the gardens belong to old houses, which suits the HODs scheme well, although the houses are not open to the public. We’re following Covid regulations, so we have limited numbers allowed in the gardens at any one time, hand sanitiser at the gates and track and trace in place.’

Discover more about Bradford Cathedral

Discover more about Bradford Cathedral - Credit: Archant

READ MORE: What it’s like to live in Beverley? Check out our guide

Rosie Ryan, whose garden at 39 North Bar is also opening to the public, says: ‘Mine is a typical townhouse garden with planted herbaceous borders and hopefully lots of autumn colour from dahlias and daisies. We also have a vegetable patch and a new beehive, from which we had our first blossom honey earlier this year.

‘In the old days we could’ve fitted in loads of people, but this year we can only have two family groups or six individuals in each section of the garden at any one time.

‘I’ve done more work on the garden during lockdown, as I normally work in a school, but you’d never know, because I’m a very untidy gardener! It’s not pristine, though there are some perfect and immaculate gardens that will be open. It’s a very good mix and they are all nice and central. I think lockdown has made people much more interested in things going on outdoors, which is perfect for us.’

Date: September 12-13, 11am-4pm

Details: hullandbeverleyheritagecollection.co.uk for further details of events and openings in Beverley during the HODs period


Online events:

Hidden Nature at Bradford Cathedral (September 11-20): Tune in for daily videos exploring the Cathedral, from the dawn chorus to what goes on at twilight.

Virtual Journey at Whirlow Spirituality Centre, Sheffield (September 11-20, booking required): Go on a digital walk through the peaceful ‘secret’ gardens in Whirlow, accompanied by an audio meditation with a violin and cello soundtrack.

Inside the Hidden Shelters, Leeds Beckett University (September 19, 2pm, booking required): Get a glimpse inside one of Leeds’ WWII air raid shelters with a new 3D model tour.

Manningham Walk, Manningham Mills Community Centre, Bradford (September 11-20): Take a self-guided walk to discover the history of the city’s buildings and people, starting at Manningham Mills.

Trio Literati: Where The ‘Art Is (The Arts in Lockdown) (September 15, 7.30pm): A Leeds-based touring company who perform poetry, prose, drama, music. Their usual live show has been deftly changed into an online extravaganza.

Hidden nature events

Crow Nest Park, Dewsbury (September 12, 13, 17, 19, 20, times vary): Get out your smartphones and take part in a special scavenger hunt around this Victorian Park. Visitors will also be encouraged to plant bulbs to help the park bloom next spring.

Parkwood Springs: from Deer Park to Country Park, Sheffield (September 11, 18, 5.30pm, booking required): Hear about the area’s history, from medieval deer park to artistic inspiration, on a guided walk.

Wombwell Cemetery: The Hidden Heart of Wombwell, Barnsley (September 11, 12, 16, from 10am): Take a special ‘CemeTree’ trail of the nature in this historic cemetery.

Visit for more details and links to these events

In keeping with the latest government guidelines, all events are subject to change. Visitors should re-check details on local event websites or heritageopendays.org.uk before visiting, and follow up-to-date social distancing measures.