Hundreds of Birmingham’s buildings and spaces, many of which are usually closed to the public, will be opening their doors as part of this year’s Birmingham Heritage Week, which starts today.
The annual festival runs until September 19, revealing the city’s hidden stories and historical secrets.
Birmingham Heritage Week is an opportunity to discover parts of the city hidden from everyday life and rediscover popular places from a new perspective. Residents and visitors to the city will be invited on hard hat tours of gasholders and catacombs and welcomed through the doors of magnificent mansions, churches and Victorian swimming baths. As well as visiting places in person, there will be virtual tours and talks taking place too.
Irene De Boo from Birmingham Heritage Week says: “Birmingham Heritage Week is a city-wide celebration of the stories, places and people from our city’s fascinating past. It’s a chance to step back in time to explore the heritage on our doorstep.
“We have canal walks with music, street art running tours and hard hat visits of catacombs. We’re really excited to see such a wide range of events on offer – many of which are completely free to attend – and we look forward to welcoming everyone.”
Highlights of this year’s Birmingham Heritage Week include:
- An opportunity to see up close the last three remaining gasholders in Birmingham before they are dismantled. Hard hat tours of the National Grid Windsor Street Gasholders will explore their history and offer a rare opportunity to look down into the underground tanks and gaze up at the gasholder frames.
- A peek inside the oldest catacombs in Birmingham. The Key Hill Cemetery catacombs are a unique architectural structure, which became the final resting place for many Birmingham families. A hard hat tour will reveal the interior architecture and memorials as well as an opportunity to see inside some of the unused catacombs.
- A guided tour and swim at the oldest operational swimming pool in Birmingham. Woodcock Street Baths – now known as the Sir Doug Ellis Woodcock Sports Centre – were built in 1902 and are still enjoyed by the local community today thanks to a redevelopment by Aston University.
- A 14-mile circular Secret Birmingham bike ride around the city’s cycle paths and green spaces taking in the city’s history and heritage en route such as the 250-year-old Sarehole Mill and landscape that inspired J.R.R Tolkien.
- A tour of St Mary’s College, Oscott – a residential training college for those entering the Catholic Priesthood. Built in 1838 and decorated by the eminent Victorian Gothic architect, Augustus Welby Pugin, St Mary’s is very rarely open to the public.
- At Moseley Road Baths, visitors can go behind-the-scenes on a guided tour of the Grade II* listed 114-year-old swimming pool.
- A climb up to the Ringing Chamber at St Martin in the Bull Ring.
- A Street Art running tour of Digbeth and Southside.
- Birmingham at Sea – a canal walk with dramatic scenes, music and significant characters from the past.
- Two of Birmingham’s oldest buildings, Aston Hall and Blakesley Hall can be explored for free.
- A chance to see the preserved battery electric milk floats of the past alongside the very latest electric vehicles in the Co-op Heritage weekend at Wythall Transport Museum.
The full Birmingham Heritage Week programme can be found at birminghamheritageweek.co.uk.
Follow Birmingham Heritage Week on social media @BHeritageWeek #BHeritageWeek