5 Manchester hidden gems you've got to check out in September during this year’s Heritage Open Days festival

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
These Greater Manchester heritage sites are opening their doors to the public this September.

Local landmarks, heritage sites and historic buildings across Greater Manchester will be opening their doors to the public this September as part of the annual Heritage Open Days festival.

The festival, organised in partnership with the National Trust and supported by the People’s Postcode Lottery, is a rare opportunity for people to explore, for free, sites that either usually charge or are not open to the public at all. Some of the locations are also offering one-off tours, events or workshops around this year’s theme, which is Creativity Unwrapped – a celebration of local art, music and culture and how they have shaped the local communities.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Last year, around 5000 events took place across the country, involving 2,150 organisers, 43,500 volunteers and one million visitors. This year is shaping up to be the same, with 85 events listed in Greater Manchester alone, ranging from the Hat Works Museum in Stockport to Heaton Hall in Bury.

The full list of Heritage Open Day events in Greater Manchester can be found on the event website, but here are a few that have already caught our eye.

RNCM – Throwing Open the Concert Doors (16-17 Sept)

The Royal Northern College of Music is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and to mark the occasion they are inviting the public to take tours around the prestigious music college, featuring stories and anecdotes from alumni and a trip to the secret museum of historical instruments. Visitors can also listen to their new Digital Heritage Booth, and there will be a family-friendly arts and crafts drop-in for the little ones.

One of the curious historic instruments in the RNCM’s collection that will be on display during this year’s Heritage Open Days festival. Credit: RNCMOne of the curious historic instruments in the RNCM’s collection that will be on display during this year’s Heritage Open Days festival. Credit: RNCM
One of the curious historic instruments in the RNCM’s collection that will be on display during this year’s Heritage Open Days festival. Credit: RNCM | RNCM

Hat Works Museum: Factory Floor Taster Tours (8-9 Sept)

The Hat Works Museum is one of Manchester’s quirkier attractions, highlighting Stockport’s prominence as a centre for hat making from the 18th century onwards. It has been closed for a number of years now for refurbishments, but they do offer taster tours. This event has been organised with mental health charity Arc and there will also be a junk modelling workshop at the Arc Café on Saturday 9 September.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Northern Quarter Street Sign Talk and Typography Workshop (16 Sept)

Ever wondered why the street signs in the Northern Quarter are different from the rest of the city? On Saturday 16 September, the two designers behind the tiled signs, Tim Rushton and Liam Curtin, will be hosting a talk and workshop at the Craft and Design Centre, where they will be sharing stories from the centre in the 80s and 90s, as well as the story behind the designs. You also get to try mono-printing and take home your design.

Learn about the unique Northern Quarter signs during this year’s Heritage Open Days festival. Learn about the unique Northern Quarter signs during this year’s Heritage Open Days festival.
Learn about the unique Northern Quarter signs during this year’s Heritage Open Days festival. | Manchester World

Museum of Transport (9-10, 16-17 Sept)

The Museum of Transport is inviting guests to take a look at their collection of 80 different vehicles, ranging from a prototype Metrolink tram to a fire engine, as well as other transport-related artefacts such as old ticket machines and uniforms. The building itself is also a Grade II-listed former bus garage – one of Manchester’s first – and they will also be offering tours aboard historic buses, and rides in other vehicles.

Open Days at Heaton Hall (9-10 Sept)

The 18th century country house at the heart of Greater Manchester’s largest park only opens to the public on special occasions and the Heritage Open Days festival is one of them. All the main rooms of the house will be open, including the stunning Cupola Room, and the Friends of Heaton Hall volunteers will be on hand to guide you through what is inside.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
Heaton Hall, Heaton Park  Credit: ShutterstockHeaton Hall, Heaton Park  Credit: Shutterstock
Heaton Hall, Heaton Park Credit: Shutterstock | Shutterstock

What else can you expect?

Other highlights include tours of the East Lancashire Railway in Bury, where you will get a glimpse at how the historic engines are maintained and stored, and the community of the Fairfield Moravian Settlement – one of the filming locations for Peaky Blinders –  will also be welcoming visitors. You can also explore the history of one of Greater Manchester’s  abandoned canals, take a tour of a secret mansion in Didsbury and learn about weaving at the People’s History Museum.

Heritage Open Days will be taking place all over the country and some of the other highlights from outside of Manchester include a 24-hour ‘poemathon’ celebrating the life of 18th century poet William Cowper in Buckinghamshire and screenings of nostalgic television ads at London’s Museum of Brands.

Museum of Brands

What do the organisers say?

Liam Montgomery, Heritage Open Days marketing and projects manager says: “Whether it’s art, music, writing, or another outlet, creativity moves us and shapes our history and culture. We’re excited to put the spotlight on the people and places who give England’s heritage the X-factor and inspire festival-goers to engage with thousands of years of creativity”

Laura Chow, head of charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, said, “This is a fantastic opportunity to explore, celebrate, and enjoy England’s national heritage, and it’s wonderful that our players are helping to ensure Heritage Open Day events are accessible and free for all. In fact, Postcode Lottery players have now raised over £1.1 billion to support thousands of great causes, including this amazing event and many others run by the National Trust.”

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.