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10 of the best free Heritage Open Day events in North Tyneside

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Ever wondered what goes on behind the doors marked ‘no entry’ at the Tyne Tunnel? How about taking a peek inside the psychedelic home of a book publisher in Cullercoats?  

These are just a couple of the many fascinating free activities and hidden treasures on offer in North Tyneside as part of Heritage Open Days 2019.

From September 13 – 22, dozens of venues across the borough including workshops, museums, theatres, churches, galleries, gardens and art spaces will be opened to the public.   

Heritage Open Days are England’s largest festival of architecture, history and culture. With support from the National Trust and the People’s Postcode Lottery, the festival is completely free and celebrating its 25th anniversary with a theme of People Power.  

North Tyneside residents will be spoiled for choice, as 39 venues prepare to host shows, exhibitions and guided tours.

Here are 10 of the best-taking place in North Tyneside:

1. Cullercoats Watch House

Front Street | Cullercoats | North Shields | NE30 4QB

Saturday 21 Sept; 10am-4pm. Visit this iconic watch house building looking out over the beautiful Cullercoats bay. This Grade II listed 1879 watch house was built for a Cullercoats volunteer life brigade and features in a number of famous paintings, notably by American landscape artist Wilmslow Homer.

2. Inspiring Public Art

North Tyneside Council | White Swan Centre | Killingworth | NE12 6SS

Friday 13 September, 10.30am-12pm. With an introduction by North Tyneside’s Elected Mayor, Norma Redfearn CBE, this event celebrates our public art heritage with performances of songs and poems, fascinating facts about some of the artworks you can find across the borough, and the launch of a stunning new book which explains it all.

3.People Power Celebration Event

The Exchange | North Shields | NE30 1SE

Fri 20 Sept: 7pm-9pm | Sat 21 Sept: 2pm-4pm, 7pm-9pm.  A celebration of the resilience of working-class communities often against the odds, the performance includes a play commissioned by North Tyneside Council and written by local playwright Catherine Scott, Fight for the Right. For free tickets call: 0191 258 4111.

4. Segudunum Roman Fort, Baths and Museum

Buddle Street | Wallsend | NE28 6HR

Thurs 19 and Fri 20 Sept: 10am-5pm | Sat 21 and Sun 22 Sept: 10am-5pm; tours 11.30am and 2pm. View exhibitions, see the remains of the original Roman baths and a section of Hadrian’s Wall guarded by the stunning Centurion sculpture Sentius Tectonicus. On Saturday and Sunday, take a guided tour of the fort and section of Hadrian’s Wall. Free admission.

5. St Columba’s United Reformed Church

30 Northumberland Square | North Shields | NE30 1PW

Sat 14 Sept, 10am-4pm. Take a closer look inside this stunning Grade II listed building, a hidden gem designed by renowned local architect John Dobson, and stunning items of furniture by famed furniture maker Robert ‘Mouseman’ Thompson. See if you can find Thompson’s trademark mice carvings on the lectern and font!

6. St Peter’s Church

Church Bank | Wallsend | NE28 7LH

Sat 14 Sept and Sat 21 Sept: 10am-4pm. Who knew that this beautiful Grade II listed church was home to the largest collection of Irish stained glass in the country. The church also boasts some fabulous new stained glass, as well as fascinating records and artefacts. A must-see venue. 

7. Stephenson Railway Museum

Middle Engine Lane | NE29 8DX

Sat 14 Sept: 11am-4pm | Sun 15 Sept: 11am-4pm; train rides 11.30am-3pm. Come and take a look at an essential part of North East and indeed world history – the oldest surviving Stephenson Locomotive, ‘Killingworth Billy’ which dates back to 1816. Free train rides on Sunday.

8. The IRON House

5 Marden Terrace | Cullercoats | NE30 4PD

Sun 15 Sept, 10am-4pm. Take a psychedelic stroll around the home of Iron Press and its editor, Peter Mortimer. Though only a medium-sized terrace, it offers a kaleidoscopic odyssey through four decades of creative artists and their eccentric imprints within the house’s walls. Not a hint of Dulux Magnolia or fitted kitchens to be seen. Plus, it is the heartbeat of IRON Press, so the occasional book may well be on view.

9. TT2 – Tunnel Tours

Tyne Tunnel | Bewicke Road | Wallsend | NE28 0PD

Sat 14 and Sun 15 Sept: 10am and 1pm | Sat 21 and Sun 22 Sept: 10 and 1pm. Booking required. Here is a fantastic opportunity to go behind the scenes at the Tyne Tunnel and understand the complexities of running multiple tunnels under the River Tyne. Tours last approximately 2 hours and you will need to book in advance by emailing: tt2limited@tt2.co.uk

10. Wallsend Memorial Hall

10 Frank Street | Wallsend | NE28 6RN

Thurs 19 Sept: 10am-3pm (tours start on the hour). Enjoy an interesting tour of The Memorial Hall, built as a tribute to the shipbuilding company’s workers who lost their lives in the First World War. View its magnificent ballroom and facilities.

A full programme of events in Tyne and Wear is available from libraries in North Tyneside.

You can also visit www.heritageopendays.org and search for your postcode for a full line-up of events near you.

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