Every September thousands of volunteers across England organise events to celebrate our fantastic history and culture. It's your chance to see hidden places and try out new experiences – all of which are FREE to explore.
Established in 1994, Heritage Open Days continues to flourish with more events every year, not least in Swindon, a town steeped in heritage. Here’s the lowdown on what’s happening in our fascinating town this September 11th and 12th.
Health Hydro, Milton Road, Swindon SN1 5JA
The Health Hydro, or Milton Road Baths as it was previously called, was built as a pioneering Victorian health and wellbeing facility with public baths, two swimming pools and Turkish Baths (the oldest Turkish baths in the country still in operation). Find out about the origins of this iconic building which has been meeting the health and leisure needs of Swindon residents since the 1890s.
Saturday 11 September: 12 - 1630. Tours at 1200, 1300, 1400 and 1500 hours
Sunday 12 September: 12 - 1630. Tours at 1200, 1300, 1400 and 1500 hours
A day in the life of the Carriage Works, 7 Carriage Works, London Street, Swindon SN1 5FB
Built in 1876 as part of Brunel’s Great Western Works, once the largest carriage works in the country, standing at the forefront of Victorian innovation. Carriage Works is transforming Brunel's legacy into a place where heritage meets digital and creative. Including information about the history of the site and its place as part of the Great Western Works.
Saturday 11 September: 10:00 - 14:00 Sunday 12 September: 10:00 - 14:00
Swindon Friends Meeting House, 79 Eastcott Hill, Swindon SN1 3JF
The main place of interest is the meeting room itself which was built in 1904. We will have a display about its history, some personal memories and its many uses. Members of the Swindon Meeting will be on hand to answer questions about our history and about Quakers today.
Saturday 11 September: Please come at any time between 1000 and 1600
Prospect Place Conservation Area, Car Park, Prospect Place, Swindon, Wiltshire, SN1 3LJ
A guided tour of the Prospect Place Conservation Area. The area consists of 120 small terraced houses with a school, public house, shop and two chapels. Prospect Place was developed after the arrival of the Wiltshire and Berkshire Canal in 1810 and expanded when the Great Western Railway was established in 1840.
Saturday 11 September: 1100 / Sunday 12 September: 1100
Pre-booking required. Call Kate: 07798 791985 / Email: email@example.com
The Parish Church of St. Mark’s, Church Place, Swindon SN1 5EH
St. Mark's is an integral part of the historic Railway Village. Our programme of Heritage Open Days events will include bellringing, a tour and a music recital. St. Mark's Church is one of the earliest churches designed by Sir Gilbert Scott, along with William Moffatt, and was built between 1843 and 1845. The grade II listed building has beautiful stained glass, including windows by the Victorian designer George Kemp, and an impressive hammerbeam roof.
Saturday 11 September: 0900-1730: Church open and refreshments served. 14.00-15.00: Tour and talk by Michael Gray. 15.30: Music Recital
Sunday 12 September: 10.30am: Sung Festive Mass. 14.00-15.00: Tour and talk by Michael Gray.
Central Community Centre Heritage Festival, Emlyn Square, Swindon Wiltshire, SN1 5BG
Explore this historic building, once a hospital and emergency facility for injured railway workers. Browse the stalls, meet local organisations, get a taste of Swindon's food history and enjoy a delicious cream tea. This Grade II listed building and former hospital is now a thriving community centre at the heart of the Railway Village.
Saturday 11 September: 1000-1600, cream teas 1430-1600 / Sunday 12 September: 1000-1600, cream teas 1430-1600
The Cricketer’s Arms, 14 Emlyn Square, Swindon SN1 5BN
Have a sneak peek inside the historic Cricketer's Arms and find out more about plans to bring it back to use! The Cricketer's Arms has been closed since October 2015. In November 2019, the Mechanics’ Institution Trust signed a lease for The Cricketer’s Arms. The aim is to renovate this former pub, with accommodation on the upper floors and community use on the ground floors. The plans are being developed and funding is currently being sought.
Saturday 11 September: 1000-1600 / Sunday 12 September: 1000-1600
Railway Village Museum and Village Tours, 34 Faringdon Road, Swindon SN1 5BJ
Step back in time and visit a former Great Western Railway worker’s cottage in the heart of Swindon. Find out what it was like to live, work and eat in a Victorian railway town and take a tour of the area with one of our local guides. The cottage was built about 1846 as part of a planned village designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel for the workers of the Great Western Railway. Home to a number of railway workers, including an engine driver and his family, the cottage is preserved as it might have looked in 1900.
Saturday 11 September: 10:00 - 16:00. Village tours: 11:00, 13:00 / Sunday 12 September: 10:00 - 16:00. Village tours: 11:00, 13:00
Bakers Arms, 16 Emlyn Square, Swindon SN1 5BN
Pop into this historic former bakery for refreshments and browse our local history display. Try your hand at making origami bees and hear about the work of Transition Swindon, or enjoy other family craft activities. Built in 1846, this building was originally owned by the GWR as one of four pubs in the Railway Village. Later it became a bakery.
Saturday 11 September: 1000-1600 / Sunday 12 September: 1000-1600
The Glue Pot Public House, 5 Emlyn Square, Swindon, Wiltshire, SN1 5BP
Enjoy real ale produced by local brewers and bar snacks, and join the landlord for a talk on the history of this Grade II listed building. The Glue Pot was a public house frequented by the GWR carriage workers. They kept their glue brushes soft in glue pots situated in the bar before going back to work.
Saturday 11 September: 1130-2300 Talk: 1500 – 30 mins / Sunday 12 September: 1200-2030 Talk: 1500 – 30 mins
The Pattern Store, Penzance Drive, Swindon SN5 7JL
The 1897 Grade II Pattern Store has been completely renovated with original historic features restored and the building revitalised to make a home for Pattern Church. Tours of the building will include the upper floors not opened to the public since the railway works closed in the 1980s.
Saturday 11 September: Tours at 1000, 1030, 1100, 1130, 1200, 1230, 1300, 1330, 1400, 1430, 1500, 1530, 1600
Food History, Heritage and Future, Royal Agricultural University Cultural Heritage Institute, Unit 11, Carriage Works, London Road, Swindon SN1 5FB
Ever wondered what people ate in the past? Ever wondered what we might eat in the future? Take a visit to the former GWR Carriage Works and the Cultural Heritage Institute to find out how we are using history to shape the future of food. Take a look inside the former Carriage Works of the Great Western Railway and see how this redundant 145-year-old industrial building was remade to become a bright and welcoming education centre featuring sustainable green technologies.
Saturday 11 September: Open 10:00 to 17:00 / Sunday 12 September: Open 10:00 to 16:00
The Lydiard Park Archives, St Marys Lydiard Tregoze Church, Church Lane, Lydiard Tregoze, Swindon SN5 3PA
Explore the fascinating history of Lydiard House and Park through this new archive, celebrated with trails and 17th-century food and drink from Lady Johanna St John's recipe book just for Heritage Open Days!
Sunday 12 September: 1300 -1600 / Saturday 18 September: 1000-1600 / Sunday 19 September: 1300-1600
St Marys Lydiard Tregoze Church, Church Lane, Lydiard Tregoze, Swindon SN5 3PA
Set within historic Lydiard Park on the outskirts of Swindon, St Marys Church has been called one of the most important small parish churches in Great Britain, renowned though the centuries for its extraordinary monuments and wall paintings. St Mary's is the site of over 1100 years continual Christian worship physically dating from the 11th/13th century Norman, extended in 14th-16th century (Tudor Royal connections).
Friday 10 September: 12 noon - 4 pm / Saturday 11 September: 12 noon - 4 pm Sunday 12 September: 1 pm - 4 pm (Lydiard Park Archive Project activities available) / Friday 17 September: 12 noon - 4 pm /Saturday 18 September: 12 noon - 1.30 pm & 3.30 - 5 pm (Lydiard Park Archive Project activities available) /Sunday 19 September: 1 pm - 4 pm (Lydiard Park Archive Project activities available)
For comprehensive information on the FREE Heritage Open Days events taking part in Swindon and for booking information go to heritageopendays.org.uk.