Amazing inventions take center stage at open heritage days across England in September.
European Open Days are held in 50 countries and include Heritage Open Days in England and, with a slightly perverse naming, Open Days in Scotland and Open Days in Wales.
Taking place September 9-18, 2022, this year’s English-language events are themed “Astounding Inventions”.
Labeled as England’s largest history and culture festival, Heritage Open Days (HOD) includes specific events and access to normally hidden venues. And everything is free. Run by the National Trust, HOD is backed by the People’s Postcode Lottery and run by thousands of local organizations and volunteers.
This year’s theme, Amazing Inventions, offers a celebration of the creations that make our lives easier and the imaginative inventors behind them. Alongside these stories of creative success, the festival will also include some of the gaffes, fads and failures that dot England’s rich history of innovation.
Liam Montgomery, Director of Marketing and Projects for Heritage Open Days, said: “We are delighted to be focusing on inventions for this year’s festival, as they provide an exciting perspective from which to examine heritage. From the humble candy bar to the World Wide Web, England has an incredibly diverse history of innovation and discovery. We wanted to celebrate this by sharing stories from all regions to really show the ingenuity and hard work behind them. Once again, we are excited to see what our community has put together!
At the time of writing, there are 332 events of which 261 fall under the Astounding Inventions banner. Here is a very brief overview of what is on offer:
BFI National Film and Television Archive, Hertfordshire
Saturday September 17 – 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The British Film Institute opens the doors to the John Paul Getty Jnr Conservation Centre, providing rare access to the specialist skills, technology and stores that support the conservation of the BFI National Collection. There will be technical demonstrations detailing video preservation and film inspection, lectures from the curator and, for the first time, the BFI Reuben Library team will have an exhibition showcasing some of the treasures from their vaults.
Newark Castle Comes Alive: Amazing Inventions, Nottinghamshire
Saturday September 17 – 10am-4pm
Newark Castle, site of the death of the unpopular King John in 1219, is hosting “a sensational science show” which will highlight the weird and wonderful inventions in the castle’s history.
The Intact Center – Dobcroft: two thousand years of technology, Lancashire
Saturday September 10 – 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Technology has shaped our relationship with the natural environment for thousands of years. Visit ‘Dobcroft’, a gated nature reserve not normally open to the public, and try cutting grass with a scythe or turning freshly cut wood on a pole lathe before stepping firmly into the 21st century with nature reserve tours in virtual reality, QR code guides, digital macro photography and pond soaking with magnification pots.
The Invention of the Apple – Cider Museum, Herefordshire
Saturday September 10 – 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Discover the fascinating characters involved in the science of pomology, from John Evelyn in the 17th century to the present day, and how they invented new methods to cultivate this versatile fruit according to its consumption: DNA testing, grafting and creating new varieties .
There are many more choices. The British Lawnmower Museum in Lancashire will organize lectures and tours about this British invention and obsession; in Beverley, North Yorkshire there is a lecture by internationally renowned gas historian Professor Russell Thomas on the origins and development of the industry and how Beverley was lit by the gas lamps which still exist today ; at Great Linford Manor Park, Milton Keynes, you can learn about the Industrial Revolution, the Grand Union Canal and take the opportunity to board the community electric riverboat, Electra (pictured below); and at the British Vintage Wireless and Television Museum, London, there are rare pre-war radios and television sets as well as the chance to learn about advances in technology over a century of broadcasting.
Check the websites at the top of the article for the latest list of current events.
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