Experience local history, architecture and culture for free

Local venues are taking part in the annual Heritage Open Days scheme, England’s largest festival of history and culture that takes place this month.

From 10th to 19th September, places are throwing open their doors to celebrate their heritage, community and history and entry to them all is free.

Among the places taking part in Bath and North East Somerset are Saltford Brass Mill, the most complete survivor of an extensive group of 18th century mills in the Avon Valley that were engaged in the production of copper and brass goods. The mill at The Shallows will be open both this weekend and next weekend from 10am to 4pm.

Brandy Bottom Colliery

And at Culverhay Archaeology Centre in Bath on Thursday 16th September you can explore archaeological finds from Keynsham and Bath including objects such as Roman mosaics and medieval abbey architecture. There are tours at 10am, noon and 2pm and booking is required – email romanbaths_enquiries@bathnes.gov.uk


In South Gloucestershire, Avon Industrial Buildings Trust’s Brandy Bottom Colliery, accessed from Avon Cycle Path 410, near Coxgrove Hill, will be open this Saturday and Sunday (11th and Sunday 12th) from 10.30am to 3.30pm.

Visitors can get a guided tour around the remains of the surface buildings of the 19th century coal mine, which are in the process of being conserved. This is a working site with rough paths, slopes and steps, some of which are steep. Appropriate footwear is advised.

Kingswood Heritage Museum Trust in Tower Lane, Warmley, will also be open this weekend from 11am to 5pm on both days. And the unique 18th century pleasure garden hidden behind William Champion’s brass mill (now the museum) and his pin factory (now the Clocktower) will also be open from 11am to 4pm each day.

Champion’s Grade II listed garden has an astonishing hidden grotto and visitors will be able to make their way through the fantastical gaping jaws of grotesque ‘faces’ into candle-lit tunnels, past a pool fed by a tumbling cascade which once flowed from the brass works.

Beyond the grotto, is the giant Statue of Neptune, once towering above a huge lake, the rare ‘snail’ viewing mound and Echo Pond, and Champion’s summer house in the woods.

This weekend people can also visit Warmley’s Grade II listed Midland Railway Signal Box, surrounded by a community garden. The signal box has levers in situ and there is also a viewing area downstairs. It is open from noon to 5pm on both days.

Warmley Signal Box

The National Trust’s Dyrham Park is also welcoming visitors for free this Saturday. During your visit you can stretch your legs through the parkland and take in the views right over to Wales. And Frenchay Chapel, the oldest purpose-built non-conformist chapel in the country still in use by a Unitarian congregation, will be open on Saturday 18th September from 2pm to 5pm.

Find out about all the venues taking part.

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