Lots to see on Burnley’s Heritage Open Days

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In just over a month’s time, Burnley will be part of a national weekend of Heritage activities. The Heritage Open Days are with us, once more, and a quite a number of local events will be taking place over five days next month.

The purpose of this Retro is to give publicity to some of the events taking place.

Gawthorpe Hall. Photo Reece Farnhill

Gawthorpe Hall. Photo Reece Farnhill

In recent years Burnley and Pendle Councils have worked together to produce a booklet of events and this will be continued this year, but just for Burnley.

The borough council and Burnley Civic Trust have joined forces to continue the scheme. The council is to pay for the printing of a booklet entitled “Heritage Open Days, 2014”. It will contain details of all the events that have been so far organised. The Civic Trust has collated the information for the events and passed it to the council for publication. The booklet will be available from later this week from a number of public places across Burnley – the town hall, bus station, Queen Street Mill Museum, Gawthorpe Hall, Towneley Hall and many local libraries.

However, I thought that because, this year, we have not been able to take full advantage of national advertising on the Heritage Open Days website, I ought to tell readers about some of the events organised for September.

Heritage Open Days is a national celebration of properties not normally open to the public. However, over the years, this idea has been extended to include buildings, parks and cemeteries etc which are clearly open to the public but at which special events have been arranged.

These events might include guided tours of buildings or walks in parks in which a qualified person will take the lead. In other cases, local organisations will take the opportunities presented to them to introduce local people to what they do and it is with one of these organisations we start.

The Canalside Community Association has premises in Lindsay Street, off Church Street in the centre of Burnley. The building in which they are based was built by the Ancient Order of Foresters, a Friendly Society founded in 1834 though its origins go back to the mid-18th Century.

The Burnley building has had something of a chequered history. From being a successful community facility for subscribers to the principles of the Friendly Society, the building, in 1910, became one of the very first Employment Exchanges in Britain. It has also been a home to members of the Royal British Legion but, in recent years, it has been rescued by the local people of the Top o’ th’ Town area and is now used as a community centre.

Lindsay Street is located in the oldest part of Burnley, close to St Peter’s Church, where in 1294 Burnley Market was established. This was followed by the predecessor of Burnley Grammar School, a small “song school” first mentioned in 1322, the purpose of which was to train boys to sing at services held at St Peter’s.

Not only did religion, the local economy and education for the Burnley area start in this part of town but it can be claimed such important local institutions such as Burnley Fair and even local government, as we know it, commenced within a stone’s throw of Burnley’s great church.

Of course St Peter’s will be open to the public on the Saturday of the Heritage Open Days. There will be two guided tours, one of the church, led by the doyen of Burnley’s local historians, Mr Ken Spencer and another of the churchyard and older parts of the Top o’ th’ Town area which I will lead.

At Lindsay Street, the Canalside Community Association has been working with Burnley Civic Trust and the Briercliffe Society and it is hoped there will be an exhibition of old photos of the area on display in the building.

There will be events across Burnley from Wednesday, September 10th, to Sunday, September 14th. However, there are too many to list this week so there will be another Retro on the same theme in a few weeks’ time. My advice is that you look out for the booklet. It should be printed by the end of this week so it will be available to the public from Monday. If you have any difficulty getting a copy, contact me on 435863 and I will send you one.